KARACHI: PNS Aslat and Saif fire a volley from their main guns towards a target buoy 4,500 yards away as helicopters buzz overhead and warships maneuver in the Arabian Sea during the culminating phase of Aman-19, the largest multinational exercise ever hosted by the Pakistan Navy (PN).
With participation from 46 navies, the exercise further cemented PN’s role as a leading and professional naval force not only in the Arabia Sea region but also in the larger area of the Indian Ocean.
With geopolitics undergoing a major realignment phase, the navy has become a major tool to project force, create goodwill throughout the region and increase Pakistan’s influence in the region.
“Now, we match India in terms of presence. If the Indian Navy has been to an area in the Indian Ocean, the Pakistan Navy is present there too,” said a senior PN officer.
The focus on further bolstering the combat capability of the PN is evident with the recent agreement to purchase eight submarines and four 054AP class warships from China.
On the final day of Aman-19, warships of the PN and foreign participating navies, including the Royal Navy, US Navy and the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), came together to showcase the level of coordination achieved over days of drills at sea.
The drills kicked off by PN ships launching rocket depth charges at a simulated submarine target.
Pakistan-made PNS Moawin – the largest ship in the fleet – took centre stage during the second drill as it refueled ships while underway. PNS Aslat and PNS Saif took a position on either side of the fleet tanker the drill started. Underway refueling and replenishment is considered to be one of the most dangerous activities carried out at sea and extreme care was taken by PN personnel during the drill.
Gunnery demonstrations were also carried out by PN, Turkish Navy and PLAN warships, and round after round from their main guns were thrown downrange towards target buoys with precision and speed.
As the drills ended, all participating ships presented a fleet review to the chief guest. Flying Pakistani colours – as a sign of respect – and their national flags, foreign and PN ships sailed past the chief guest during the phase.
PAF JF-17 Thunder aircraft during the flypast.
Turkish frigate TCG Gokceada, PLAN’s Kunlun Shan and Luoma Hu, United Kingdom’s HMS Dragon, Royal Australia Navy’s Ballarat, American Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Decatur, Sri Lanka’s off-shore patrol vessel SLNS Sayurala, Royal Malaysian Navy’s support ship KD Mahawangsa and KD Kasturi, Italian Navy’s Carlo Margottini, Royal Navy of Oman’s Al Rahmani PNS Aslat, Saif, Shamsheer, Khyber, Azmat, Alamgir and Pakistan Maritime Security (PMSA) ships Kashmir, Zhob, Himmat and Basol were part of the fleet review.