Chinese elements shine at joint drills, maritime expo in Pakistan
Vessels built by China perform well, contribute to regional peace, stability: Pakistani officers
Published: Feb 12, 2023 08:01 PM
The guided missile destroyer Nanning of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is moored at a port in Karachi, Pakistan on February 12, 2023 during the AMAN-23 multinational maritime exercise. Photo: Liu Xuanzun/GT

The guided missile destroyer Nanning of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is moored at a port in Karachi, Pakistan on February 12, 2023 during the AMAN-23 multinational maritime exercise. Photo: Liu Xuanzun/GT

Chinese elements, including a destroyer from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, Chinese exhibitors and Pakistani vessels built by China, came under the spotlight at the ongoing AMAN-23 multinational maritime exercise and the concurrent Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference (PIMEC) in Karachi, Pakistan.

Some 50 countries are participating in the AMAN-23 exercise with ships, aircraft, special operations forces and a large number of observers, with China sending the guided missile destroyer Nanning, together with a vessel-borne helicopter and dozens of marines.

"In this exercise, we are mainly participating in tactical exchanges in the harbor, ship exhibition, live-fire shooting, counterterrorism, anti-piracy operations, and search and rescue, among other tactical courses," Qiu Maoxuan, skipper of the Nanning, told the Global Times on the sidelines of the exercise.

At the PIMEC, China Electronics Technology Group Corp's (CETC) international trade platform CETC International Co, Metallurgical Corp of China and Gwadar Port & Free Zone set up booths, with many visitors from different countries coming to seek information.

For example, unmanned boats for surveying, security, rescue and patrol, as well as an unmanned underwater carrier platform and an island and reef-based information system shown by CETC International attracted wide attention.

A graduate of the Dalian Naval Academy of the PLA, Lieutenant Shahzaib Awan, now serves in the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency. He told the Global Times at the booth of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency that his unit's role includes maritime search and rescue, fishery protection, anti-drug operation, anti-piracy efforts and counterterrorism, with many Chinese elements playing key roles.

When fishing boats encounter dangerous waves or face other accidents, the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency is able to reach the site and carry out rescue missions with the fastest speed thanks to its induction of vessels made by China and its application of Chinese methods, Awan said.

Having served on the PMSS Kashimir for two years, Awan said the vessel built in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province was commissioned in 2018. Compared with another type of vessel built by another country Awan had served on, the Chinese vessel excels because the Chinese shipbuilder designed it based on the operational methods of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency. "It makes everything go very smoothly," he said.

Since the maritime environment around Pakistan is complicated, the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency is also in charge of providing security for passing commercial ships, Awan said.

The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency's participation in the PIMEC also aims at displaying its capabilities to the public, Awan said.

Another Chinese-built ship that has won positive ratings from Pakistan is the Type 054A/P guided missile frigate, which was the most attractive vessel displayed at the AMAN-23's opening ceremony.

Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi, chief of the Naval Staff of the Pakistan Navy, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview prior to the exercise that the Type 054A/P is one of the latest multi-role frigates of Chinese origin, equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors.

The first two ships of this class were previously inducted into the Pakistan Navy - the PNS Tughril in December 2021 and the PNS Taimur in June 2022. The remaining two ships are on track to join the Pakistan Navy Fleet this year, said the naval chief. 

These ships are being integrated into Pakistan Navy operations, and they will be mainstays in the Pakistan Navy Fleet in the coming years, ensuring the seaward defense and protection of Pakistan's vital sea lines of communication, he said.

A Pakistan Navy officer who served as the executive officer on an F-22P frigate, which is the previous class of warship China built for Pakistan, told the Global Times that he will receive a newly commissioned Type 054A/P in 2023.

He said that the F-22P is a very good vessel, and he expects the Type 054A/P to further enhance the Pakistan Navy's capabilities.