KARACHI, Sept 22: SM Hamza, the second indigenously built Agosta 90B submarine, will be commissioned in the Pakistan Navy on Sept 26, giving a qualitative boost to its capability to defend the country’s maritime boundaries.

This was stated by Commodore Hassan Naser Shah, general manager of the submarine construction project, and Commodore Shah Masood at a background briefing at the PN Dockyard on Monday.

The commissioning of SM Hamza was termed a historical moment because it has a special feature of air independent propulsion system which increases the diving autonomy of conventional submarines.

“It is a major breakthrough in our capabilities of defence production and today Pakistan is among one of the few countries capable of constructing submarines indigenously,” Commodore Naser Shah said.

The special feature of SM Hamza is MESMA air independent propulsion (AIP) system which increases the diving duration as compared to conventional submarines.

The AIP system has liquid oxygen and ethanol to produce electricity which is used to charge the submarine’s batteries.

SM Hamza, being commissioned after successful completion of all harbour and sea trials, will become the first submarine in the Arabian Sea with the AIP system.

This is the third submarine of Agosta 90B contract which was signed with DCNI of France in Sept 1994.

Under the contract, first Agosta 90B, PNS Khalid, was built in France and handed over to the Pakistan Navy in Dec 1999.

The second submarine PNS Saad was built at the submarine construction department at the PN Dockyard and it was commissioned in 2003.

Construction of indigenous submarine continued despite some hitches following the Sheraton Karachi bombing in which some French engineers working on the project were killed.

Hamza is the most advanced version of Agosta design. Its outer hull is light structure fabricated at the PN Dockyard in parts and mounted on the inner pressure hull.The pressure hull section was fabricated and outfitted by the PN Dockyard in collaboration with the Karachi Shipyard.

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