ISLAMABAD, Oct 7: The new Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir, said on Friday that Pakistan Navy was fully capable of facing all sorts of challenges and protecting the country’s maritime interests.
Talking to newsmen after assuming command of Pakistan Navy at a ceremony here at the naval complex, he said: “All steps will be taken to ensure that the Navy continues to maintain credible deterrence.”
He said different options were being considered for the replacement of the obsolete Daphne class submarines. He said the policy would be to buy the best platform at the best price and terms.
He said that discussions on the price of two Olivier Hazard Perry Class submarines from United States would start once the US Congress formally approves the sale. Buying surface platform is amongst the top priorities of the Pakistan Navy, said Admiral Tahir while pledging to continue efforts to strike the best deal possible.
In reply to a question about Vice Admiral Haroon, the officer superseded by him, he said he had no differences with Admiral Haroon and had family terms with him. He expressed confidence that Vice Admiral Haroon would not resign.
Earlier, speaking at the change of command ceremony, Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir said that Pakistan Navy’s primary role as a potent fighting force was to maintain optimum preparedness at all times. “It is towards the fulfillment of this primary task that I will strive,” he said.
“Today the navy can boast of a wide variety of military hardware in its inventory, but it should not be forgotten that it is the quality of fighting men that is the real force multiplier,” he said. The naval chief said the courage of personnel in difficult situations and their willingness to work well beyond the line of duty were great assets indeed. “While working together as a well-knit team, we shall Inshallah succeed in facing the challenges that lie ahead. We must be fully prepared to fight and prevail through the attributes of superior training, professional excellence and, above all, faith in our cause,” he emphasised.
With the passage of time and with the turn of events in this part of the globe, Pakistan Navy’s responsibilities have increased manifold, according to Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir. “It is our duty to discharge these responsibilities to the best of our ability and to the satisfaction of the government and the people of Pakistan,” he added.
Bidding farewell to the outgoing naval chief, he said Admiral Shahid Karimullah has been a distinguished naval chief who served Pakistan Navy for four decades of service with both wisdom and skill.
In his farewell address, the outgoing naval chief Admiral Shahid Karimullah said the navy today stands as an effective and efficient arm of the country’s armed forces, fully capable of protecting maritime interests and maintaining deterrence. He said Pakistan Navy had emerged as an effective instrument of the country’s defence and foreign policies, capable of showing presence in its area of interest.
About the steps taken for the acquisition of modern platforms and weapon systems, he said the naval fleet was being equipped with smaller vessels and two additional missile boats, constructed at Karachi shipyard. He also referred to the recently concluded contract with China for co-production of four F-22P frigates, and said these measures would considerably enhance the effectiveness of the surface fleet.
He said that naval aviation was also being strengthened by acquiring more long range maritime patrol aircraft to replace the existing Atlantiques and making the two grounded P3Cs operational. The two P-3Cs are presently undergoing overhaul in Pakistan with US assistance and are expected to be operational by the end of this year.P-3C Orion is a long range maritime patrol aircraft with an endurance of about 18 hours. It can carry Harpoon missiles.
The outgoing naval chief said while the US is gifting 8 P3Cs to Pakistan, agreements have also been reached to purchase 6 Z-9C helicopters from China and 8 Alouette III helicopters from France, which would considerably enhance the effectiveness of the Fleet Air Arm.
He said Pakistan Navy was exploring all options for the acquisition of new submarines to make up for the shortfall in their numbers created by phasing out the old Daphne class submarines and to maintain a credible offensive punch.
He said while planning to induct new surface, air and subsurface platforms, due attention has also been paid to acquisition of latest weapons and sensors for modernisation of the existing units. He made a special mention of torpedoes for Agosta 90-B submarines, and said the acquisition of Harpoon Block-II missiles and the latest CIWS will also contribute significantly to the Navy’s operational capability.