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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pakistan Navy gearing up for battleships

Thursday, October 23, 2008
By Azeem Samar
Karachi “When officials from the Royal Navy come here and visit our ships, such as the PNS Tariq, they are surprised with our efforts and capabilities to maintain a refurbished status of the frigates that had been dumped by them more than a decade ago,” said Captain Sohail Hameed who is commanding officer of PNS Tariq.He was talking to mediamen during the demonstration by Pakistan Navy of their operation during peacetime amidst reports of deployment of Indian warships as far as Gulf of Aden off Somalia coast.The media was also told about life of sailor who often cannot go back home incase there is an emergency. “Like in several instances while in the midst of a voyage sailors choose not to go back to the country despite getting the news of death of their near and dear ones,” he added.“However, wherever it’s possible, especially when the ship is safely anchored at the port of a friendly country, the sailors are given the opportunity to fly back to the homeland to reach their homes on such moments of sorrow and grief,” said CO of PNS Tariq.Journalists on board of the two multi-role battleships of Pakistan Navy were taken up to 50 Nautical Miles inside the Arabian Sea on the last day of the three-day PN’s media workshop. “While when there is some sort of natural or man-made disaster in the country on a widespread magnitude, we cannot tell our sailors and other ship personnel about the bad news in one go as it would cause panic and frustration among the seamen who would be fearful about the safety of their near and dear ones back in Pakistan,” said Captain Hameed.PNS Tariq was commissioned by the Pakistan Navy on July 28, 1993 as previously being the Type-21 frigate it was HMS-Ambuscade in the Royal Navy. Captain Hameed said that the PN undertakes regular modifications, modernisation, and revamping of its destroyers so that there is no negative impact of employing second-hand battleships to guard maritime frontiers of the country. The PN has been in the process of acquiring four new F-22P frigates from China with the first such frigate being handed over to Pakistan by mid 2009; this will make the first brand new battleship. The Pakistan Navy has also acquired three fast patrol boats from Turkey that are also equipped with surface-to-surface and anti-ship missiles. Captain Hameed said that the PN undertook advancement of its missile and weapon systems on its warships and submarines in collaboration with the United States, the UK, Germany, and China to ably guard maritime frontiers, oil import operations, and secure exports and imports of merchant goods through sea.To a question asked by The News, he said that at present there are no women officers or sailors in the main operations branch of the Pakistan Navy, but after due modifications in the interior designs of its warships it would be able to induct women in steering and navigation branches of ships. Although, he added, there are women inductees in support branches of the Navy including education, law, and, medicine. Captain Hameed said that in order to enhance their professional and warfare capabilities, the PN officers and engineers are offered training and advance courses in the USA, the UK, France, Germany, and China. The naval officers and cadets from friendly nations of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Malaysia, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, on the other hand, are given training by the Pakistan Navy at its academy and other training institutions. CO PNS Tariq said that during peacetime the PN continues preparing for its operation while its battleships perform surveillance, policing, and rescue missions to meet the maritime challenges confronting the country. The PNS Tariq performed rescue missions during the December 2004 Tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia and Cyclone Yemyin affecting the Makran coast in June 2007 and rescued hundreds of stranded people on the two occasions.

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