Author: Wajahat Abbas
The author is a Research Analyst having diverse experience working with think tanks and development organizations.
Since Pakistan launched its first-ever maritime doctrine in 2018, marking an accomplishment for the country and turning Pakistan Navy into one of the most significant defensive lines to protect the national interests. Owing to its professionalism, Pakistan Navy ensures the protection of state jurisdiction of territorial water boundaries and economic zones especially the IOR. After the inclusion of CPEC, the conventional role of the Pakistan Navy modernized with the adoption of technological advancements to maintain the maritime force as a task force to protect the country’s defensive and economic interests at sea.
In 2020 Pakistan Navy remained at the forefront to provide relief and protection to the masses in various domains ranging from exercising combat readiness, infusing maritime awareness, training and provision of assistance/relief operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with the country’s strategic requirements, the Pakistan Navy always remained poised and endeavoured to support and serve national interests.
Following are the main highlights and achievements of the Pakistan Navy during the year 2020;
Bilateral and Multinational Naval Exercises
To mark its combat readiness while ensuring the efforts towards collaborative maritime security in the region, Pakistan Navy in 2020 participated in various bilateral and passage exercises including;
- Ex-Sea Guardians-2020 with PLA (Navy)
- Ex-White Star-2020 with Royal Britain Navy
- Ex MAVIBALINA 2020 and Ex TURGUTREIS-V with Turkish Navy
- Regional Maritime Security Patrol (RMSP) passage exercise with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force
- RMSP passage exercise with South Korean Navy
- RMSP passage exercise with Royal Navy
- Coordinated joint Patrol with Turkish Navy
- Overseas Deployments of PN Ships in Oman, Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Turkey, Jordan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The bilateral exercises were focused to enhance further capabilities, strengthen mutual learning, discuss and learn from best practices and enhancing interoperability between the participants.
During the sea operations/drills, Pakistan Navy demonstrated firepower in high-tech developed anti-ship missiles from various fleet combat platforms including Surface, Sub-Surface and Aviation units in the North Arabian Sea. The successful multiple live missile firings were conducted to review operational preparedness and warfighting capabilities of the Pakistan Naval fleet.
Assuming Command of CTF-151
In accordance with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, the Pakistan Navy in cooperation with regional navies leading the maritime security operations to eliminate and suppress piracy, armed robberies in the Horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden and adjoining ocean space with its leadership skills engaging regional partners in capacity building to strengthen capabilities in order to protect global maritime commerce and trade. Owing to its professional capabilities Pakistan Navy assumed the command of CTF-151 for the ninth time with the resolve to continue with the same spirit to strengthen the strong relationship between the Pakistan Navy and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in the pursuit of their common objective to secure maritime order in the region.
Joint Maritime Information Coordination Centre (JMICC)
To counter the modern challenges/ threats, Pakistan Navy took another important initiative in 2020 and inaugurated a Joint Maritime Information and Coordination Centre (JMICC) to harmonize efforts of all maritime organizations and agencies. The initiative aimed to enhance collective response to maritime security challenges with regards to CPEC and EEZs. Moreover, the new setup is equipped with an indigenously developed Joint Maritime Information Sharing (JMIS) system, which will primarily improve the information sharing and inter-department/ agency coordination.
Development Programs and Acquisitions
The missions of Pakistan Navy towards modernization and regional leader as a task force rather than a conventional force, Pakistan Navy continued their developmental and acquisition program throughout the year. This year working indigenously and with other regional partners Pakistan Navy inducted the following naval components;
- Maritime Patrol Aircraft’s (MPAs)
- Unmanned Aerial Systems to enhance operational capability
- LUNA NG Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to augment Pakistan Navy’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in maritime domain especially in Creeks area along the Coastal belt.
- Induction of 1st Type-054 A/P Class Frigate (Fitted with the latest Surface, Subsurface, Anti-air weapons, Combat Management System with technologically advanced sensors).
- Keel Laying of 2nd Type-054 A/P Class Frigate
- Keel Laying of 2nd MILGEM Class Corvette was held at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works KS&EW)
- Induction of two states of the art corvettes PNS YARMOOK and PNS TABUK (The corvettes possess the latest weapons and sensors system having sophisticated self-protection and terminal defence systems being constructed in Romania).
To safeguard frontiers, PN conducted individual and joint intelligence-based operations (IBOs) in collaboration with Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) and Pakistan Customs to thwart criminal elements in smuggling of drugs and remained vigilant along the coastal belt. During the operations, Pakistan Navy along with other security agencies intercepted and confiscated huge caches of narcotics/ drugs worth billions of rupees in the international market. The successful operations were based on prolonged surveillance, operational coordination and timely efforts of security agencies with the effective monitoring of the Pakistan Navy on the coastline and sea frontiers.
Pakistan Navy being a professional and responsible force extended nationwide humanitarian assistance for the nation and its people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan Navy distributed food / essential commodities and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) at various cities/ towns, small villages and hospitals across the country for fighting the deadliest pandemic. Moreover, Pakistan Navy’s medical teams established free medical camps at far-flung rural areas of Sindh and Balochistan to provide free treatment and enlighten them about diseases/ infections and their preventive measures, particularly against the COVID-19. During the rains and floods of the monsoon, Pakistan Navy along with the civil administration remained at the forefront and launched rescue operations to provide relief disaster-hit areas. Naval troops reached the disaster-hit areas and evacuated a large number of local inhabitants stranded in rain flooded areas and provided them relief good/ ration bags.
Even though 2020 remained uncertain but Pakistan Navy, following its vision devoted its resources to the country and its people. Pakistan Navy took various developmental steps for socio-economic development of the country, such as:
- Educational Facilities: Pakistan Navy inaugurated Maritime Science and Technology Park (PMSTP) as a core objective to boost the national blue economy and promote maritime sciences, technologies and businesses. The PMSTP will act as a vibrant platform for national development and contribute to national GDP besides playing a critical role in the mapping of national offshore riches. In addition to that Pakistan Navy is modernizing the standards of Bahria University with the following programs;
- Bahria University Dental College and Hospital
- Health and Science Complex at Bahria University Medical & Dental College (BUM&DC), Karachi
- Pakistan Navy Nursing College and Medical Training School
- Allied Health Sciences and College of Physical Therapy
- Sports Field: Pakistan Navy won laurels in different sports events and successfully defended the title of 27th National shooting championship consecutively for the 3rd time and also won Nation Sailing Championship. Moreover, Pakistan Navy organized the 14th Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) international squash championship and 3rd PN international Nautical competition.
- Tree Plantation Campaign: In line with the government’s vision for a clean and green Pakistan, the Navy launched its Spring Tree Plantation Campaign-2020 and planned to plant three hundred thousand (300,000) saplings alone at Margalla Hills in Islamabad. Similarly, planted 3 million mangroves in coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces, which will improve the ecosystem and subside the alarming climate changes.
The year 2020 remained uncertain in terms of natural disasters, global deadly pandemic, slow trade, international alignments & re-alignments and economic cooperation however, Pakistan Navy accomplished its desired objectives in various aspects ranging from exercising combat readiness at sea and assisting the local populace during national calamities through rescue and relief operations.