Maritime security operations against asymmetric threats as well as contemporary challenges like piracy, terrorism, narcotics, arms and human smuggling have a great impact on the maritime environment, Rear Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah said at a press briefing on Saturday.
“It needs no emphasis that present day navies are increasingly focused on policing roles and sharing of resources for countering these multifarious maritime security challenges requires collaborative approach at regional as well as international level,” he observed.
“To this end, the Pakistan Navy as a responsible maritime power is contributing relentlessly in maintaining legitimate maritime order at sea through the conduct of maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea and beyond.”
He said the Pakistan Navy regularly conducted bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional and extra-regional navies to improve its interoperability with international navies.
“These exercises are a clear manifestation of Pakistan’s commitment towards maintaining peace and stability in the region.”
Naseem Al Bahr is one such bilateral maritime exercise conducted with a brotherly navy, the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF). Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia not only enjoy deep-rooted fraternal ties, but also share historic maritime traditions.
Naseem Al Bahar is a biennial exercise evolved as a manifestation of the unique Pak-Saudi interpersonal relationship and mutual resolve to enhance bilateral cooperation in facing the common challenges.
“The participation of RSNF ships in the exercise will further strengthen the existing bilateral relations between the two brotherly navies. At this juncture, we thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and particularly, the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, for their participation in the exercise, Naseem Al Bahr-X, which is scheduled from 12 to 22 Jan 13 off the coast of Makran,” Zakaullah said.
“It is also a milestone in history of the Pakistan Navy in which the complete exercise will be conducted from Jinnah Naval Base, Ormara. Naseem Al Bahr series of exercises is indeed a concerted effort from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to promote maritime security awareness for collaborative maritime security in the region.”
The rear admiral said first Naseem Al Bahr exercise was conducted in January 1993 and the present exercise also marks the twentieth year of this interaction with the RSNF.
Zakaullah said the aim of the exercise was to foster friendship, develop common understanding and increase interoperability with the RSNF in the domains of traditional as well as non-traditional warfare in order to maintain peace and stability for the larger good of the region.
He said in the traditional warfare domain, the objective was to share and refine tactics, techniques and doctrines through jointly undertaking anti-surface, anti-submarine and anti-air operations with RSNF units.
In the non traditional domain, he added, the exercise would mainly focus to improve interoperability and tactical proficiency in the execution of combined maritime security operations against asymmetric threats like piracy, counter terrorism and defence of port infrastructure to mention a few.
He disclosed that four RSNF ships which include frigate (HMS Makkah) embarked with a Dauphin helicopter, a guided missile equipped patrol craft (HMS Tabuk), Mine counter measures vessel (HMS Shaqra) and a tanker (HMS Boraida) were participating in the exercise.
In addition, he said a platoon of the RSNF Marines and a Special Operations Force team along with explosive ordnance disposal elements had also arrived in Pakistan for various exercises.
Three PN destroyers/frigates, missile boats, mine hunters, submarine, PN long range maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters, elements of Pak Marines, Special Services Group (Navy) and PAF fighters are representing Pakistan in the exercise.
After the arrival of the RSNF ships, the exercise will progress through phased activities in harbour and at sea for gradual improvement and coordination in all professional realms.
The exercise will culminate with live weapons firing by RSNF and PN units.
The activities in harbour include professional seminars on information security, counter piracy, mine counter measures and host of other events which will provide opportunity to share experiences and knowledge.
The sea phase of the exercise is planned from January 15 till 20 in which RSNF and PN units will operate together and will exercise all facets of modern warfare.
Zakaullah said the good thing about the exercises was that each series was refined and improved based on the lessons learnt from the previous ones.