The fourth and last frigate of F-22P series for the Pakistan Navy was launched here on Thursday, which has been built at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) with Chinese assistance.
The frigate, designated PNS Aslat, was launched at a ceremony held at the KSEW with Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir as chief guest.
The F-22P frigate would be handed over to Pakistan Navy in December 2012, after complete construction of the ship and equipping it with required armoury and sensors, making it ready for full operational use for the Navy.
The construction of the frigate commenced in 2009.
Already, three F-22P frigates, built in China, are in operational use of Pakistan Navy namely PNS Zulfiqar, PNS Shamsheer, and PNS Saif.
Also on the occasion, the Karachi Shipyard announced construction of a Fast Attack (missile) craft for the Pakistan Navy.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, the naval chief said that launching of F-22P ship at KSEW was commendable and a clear manifestation of the indigenisation policy of the government, especially attaining self-reliance in maritime defence capabilities.
Acknowledging efforts of the Pakistani and Chinese engineers and technicians for construction of F-22P Frigate at the Karachi Shipyard, Admiral Bashir congratulated the China State Shipbuilding Company (CSSC), China Shipbuilding and Trading Company (CSTC), Hudong Zhongua and Karachi Shipyards for launching the ship as per schedule and remarked that the occasion was yet another example of unparalleled Pak-China rock-solid relations.
The chief guest emphasized the fact that launching of the warship being an important milestone in attaining maritime defence capabilities, had not only further strengthened Pakistan’s relations with Chinese friends but has added colour and eminence to celebrations for 60 years of resounding friendship between Pakistan and China.
The naval chief appreciated the turnaround of Karachi Shipyard that enabled it to meet challenges of constructing warships and attributed the success to sound planning of KSEW management and untiring efforts of its workforce.
The chief guest also urged the Ministry of Defence Production to continue supporting KSEW on their road to progress.
Admiral Bashir also emphasized building a strong navy capable of defending the maritime interests of the country.
The chief guest reiterated that Pakistan did not harbour aggressive designs “but our sea trade routes, vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and international energy lines that pass very close to our coast need to be protected which is not only in the interest of our country but of the entire international community”.
Therefore, Pakistan Navy will continue to endeavour to maintain peace and stability in its area of responsibility, he said.
The F-22P frigate, having overall length of 123 metres and breadth of 13.8 metres, could move at speeds of up to 29 Knots, having a range of 4000 nautical miles.
The ship would be equipped with surveillance radar, fire control radar, integrated anti-submarine system, Radar Warning receiver system, and laser warning system.
As for the weaponry, the F-22P warship would be armed with surface-to-surface missile, surface-to-air missile, depth charge system, torpedoes, and, anti-aircraft guns. The ship would also be equipped with Chinese-origin Z9EC helicopter.
The main role of the Chinese-origin warship includes anti-submarine warfare; air defence of a force operating at sea or convoy or particular area; interdiction of hostile combatants; patrolling, monitoring, and protection of EEZ; radiate combat power in the area of interest; search and rescue; contribute to international security through UN peacekeeping operations, and flag showing/maritime diplomacy.