On April 11, China officially handed a 600-ton patrol ship over to Pakistan’s maritime safety authority in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. Among other things, the ship will be used to safeguard Pakistan’s maritime interests.
The new ship, just the third of its kind, was built by China Shipbuilding Trading Company Ltd. (CSTC) and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Xijiang Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
Previous two ships have already demonstrated their reliability and excellent performance during visits and exchanges, joint drills, maritime rescue and other missions in Pakistan, state-run People’s Daily reported.
Pakistan’s maritime safety authority expressed great appreciation for the quality of the ships and for sound cooperation with Chinese ship manufactures, who have promised to provide after-sale services, it said.
The ships are key to consolidating close relations between China-Pakistan, protecting Pakistan’s sea transportation and pushing forward the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Belt and Road Initiative, it said.
The CPEC project will link the Pakistani city of Gwadar to China’s Xinjiang via a vast network of highways and railways. The project was launched in 2015 with USD 46 billion but later the investment increased to USD 55 billion.
Pakistan currently operates a range of patrol vessels procured from Turkey, China and the USA, as well as some domestically built. They are primarily divided among the 10th Patrol Craft Squadron and the Fast Patrol Craft Squadron.
It was way back,On 10 June 2015, that a formal agreement was signed between the Pakistan governmant and the ‘China Ship Trading Company’,for the sale of total six patrol boats which will eventually replace the ageing Barkat Class Boats of PMSA. Of these ships four will be 600ton while two will be 1500 ton.
Three (600 ton) and one 1500 ton boats will be built in China, and one 600ton and one 1500 ton at the ‘Karachi Shipyards and Engineering Works.’The contract price was not disclosed but a senior Pakistani official said at least USD 130 million had been allocated. CSTC (China) has launched two 600 ton boats three months ahead of scheduled time. PMSA Basol is the second ship launced by CSTC.While one 600 ton boat was constructed at KSEW and was delivered on April 11, 2017.
Technical details about the new 600-ton ship are scarce. Based on an illustration of the Maritime Patrol Vessel seen in photos of the steel-cutting ceremony, it appears that it will be able to accommodate a helicopter and a number of rigid-hull inflatable boats.
“Armament to be fitted onboard includes either a 37 mm or a 30 mm gun as a primary weapon, in addition to mountings for two 12.7 mm machine guns. An artist’s illustration of the MPV [Maritime Patrol Vessel], suggests that the PMSA has opted for an automatic stabilized naval gun system as the platform’s main weapon,” said reliable sources.