DesPardes + PKonweb

Second Pakistan Navy Corvette to Be Mission Ready in 2021

“Hopefully the OPVs of PNS TABUK class will be constructed at Karachi Shipyard (KSEW)”

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Navy’s Second Multipurpose Offshore Patrol vessel PNS TABUK will soon be delivered.

It was launched in September 2019. Two more are planned under Pak Navy’s modernization project.

The PN will use the corvettes as general-purpose ships for both peacetime policing as well as conventional wartime operations.

The PN commissioned the first ship, PNS Yarmook in February 2020. It was supposed to take delivery of the second ship, PNS Tabuk, in May 2020. However, the PN opted to fit the ships with their own weapons and subsystems in Pakistan, so the corvettes may not be fully mission-ready before 2021, at the earliest, says a report.

The Offshore Patrol Vehicles (OPVs) are named after the Battles of Yarmouk and Tabuk which were the major battles in the early period of Islam.

Damen Shipyards Group signed the contract with Pakistan’s Ministry of Defense Production for 2 multipurpose OPVs for the Pakistan Navy on 30th June 2017, following a tender process. Both ships are being built at its facilities in Galati, Romania.

The acquisition cost of these ships is likely closer to the $55-60 million-per-ship range Malaysia paid for its OPV 1800s, according to Quwa.

Pakistan’s seabed territory has grown by about 50,000 square kilometers (from 240,000sqkm to 290,000 sqkm) after a UN body accepted Islamabad’s claim for extension of sea limits in 2015. Special rights include exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production in the area in its jurisdiction, which is also described as exclusive economic zone.

Quwa adds: Since the PN is separately adding the subsystems and weapons, so the unit cost of the Yarmook-class will likely reach closer to $75-90 million per ship. In any case, it offers a comparatively low-cost means to the PN for getting a ship that can patrol Pakistan’s full exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while also retaining the ability to deploy anti-ship missiles and electronic intelligence systems.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi outlined in a recent interview that PN is working to acquire long-range maritime patrol aircraft (LRMPA), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and multi-mission helicopters as part of its modernization plan.

PN has taken a frontline position with the launch of multi-billion dollar Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) that serves as a trade and energy (shortest) corridor between the Middle East and China, Central Asia.

While the CPEC has drawn lots of interest from regional countries, some are not so happy about it –India is one of them — Pakistan’s arch rival bordering its eastern flank with access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Both the nuclear-armed countries have gone to war 3 times over territorial disputes.

CPEC’s gateway Gwadar port in Balochistan straddles the Arabian Sea shoreline.

PN has developed into a force to reckon with, say former Vice Admiral Khan Kasham bin Saddiq. “It is multi-dimensional and capable of operations across the full spectrum of conflict”.

On acquiring these OPVs, the former senior naval official says they are a part of the modernization program –to enhance surveillance capability and maintain presence to protect sea trade routes.

“The impending operationalization of CPEC has placed additional responsibility on PN to protect the harbor (Gwadar port), the approaches and sea lanes to Gwadar against traditional and non-traditional threats”.

“Hopefully the OPVs of PNS TABUK class will be constructed at Karachi Shipyard (KSEW)”, says the former admiral.

The CPEC is expected to be fully operational by 2023.

About Yarmook-Class Corvette:

The Yarmook-Class Corvettes can reach the top speed of 23 knots, has a range of 6,000 nautical miles and its maximum endurance is 40 days. The ship can accommodate more than 60 sailors on board.

According to a report, Yarmook-Class Corvettes will be fitted with a Surface to Surface Missile system, a 30 mm Main Gun, Close-in Weapons System and 4×12.7 guns, anti-ship missile, infrared radars and a system to reduce the magnetic signature of the vessel.

The Yarmook-Class Corvette is capable of performing a variety of maritime operations and can transport both a helicopter and a UAV.