Agosta ready for trials

Published August 12, 2002

KARACHI, Aug 11: Pakistan’s second Agosta 90-B class submarine is ready for launching and six months of sea trials, a navy spokesman told AFP Sunday.

The submarine is equipped with four bow torpedo tubes and missiles, with its fighting capacity coordinated by the French-made Submarine Tactical Integrated Combat System (STICS).

“It is ready for launching. We have not decided the final date, but in all probability it will be launched by the third week of August,” he said

The vessel was manufactured at a naval shipyard near Karachi by local shipbuilders with the help of French marine engineers. Eleven members of the French technical team were killed and another 12 injured by a suicide car-bombing in the city on May 8.

Talking to reporters after meeting the 12 injured French citizens and visiting the scene of the massive blast, newly appointed French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie dismissed concerns the attack would damage bilateral relations.

“If certain people had hoped to strain links between France and Pakistan, they were mistaken,” she said.

“The current agreements will be pursued,” she added, referring to a military cooperation pact reached in 1994 for the joint construction of three Agosta 90B class submarines.

But the minister said the project also implied a “security guarantee for our French citizens”, an issue she had raised during talks with local authorities.

All the dead and injured French citizens were working for the state-owned ship-building firm Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN).

All DCN’s French staff were pulled out of Pakistan after the Sept 11 attacks on the United States, but some had returned earlier this year to assess the security situation.—AFP

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