Pakistan orders offshore patrol vessel from Netherlands’ Damen
November 28, 2023
The Damen Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) 1800. Photo credit: Damen Shipyards

Pakistan orders offshore patrol vessel from Netherlands’ Damen

The Pakistan Navy has ordered a “multipurpose offshore patrol vessel” (OPV) from the Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards on Monday, June 12.

The contract as signed by the Managing Director of Karachi Shipyards & Engineering Works (KSEW) Rear Admiral Hasan Nasir, an official from Damen Shipyards and the Director of Military Procurement (Navy) Commodore Shafqat Azad.

The Netherlands’ Ambassador to Pakistan Jeannette Seppen and the Secretary of Defence Production Lt. Gen. (R) Syed Muhammad Owais were also present at the signing event.

In in its official press release, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) states that the new OPV will have a length of 90 m, top speed of 22 knots and full-load displacement of 1,900 tons.

As per the MoDP, the multi-mission OPV “is especially suited for anti surface [and] anti air operations, maritime security operations, day [and] night helicopter operations, combat search and rescue, and surveillance and intelligence gathering operations.”

The OPV will be constructed at KSEW.

Notes & Comments:

Though not as fast or well-armed as corvettes and frigates, OPVs are optimized for long-range and long-endurance operations, such as policing a country’s exclusive economic zone against maritime criminal activity, such as trafficking and piracy.

The MoDP‘s press statement did not state the specific Damen ship the Pakistan Navy is buying, but the specifications (of 90 m and 1,900 tons) suggest that it is could be the Damen OPV 1800.

The Damen OPV 1800 is slightly shorter at 83 m, but it has a top speed of 22 knots and displacement of 1,800 tons. It has a ferry range of 5,000 nm and endurance of 30 days. It’s flight deck and hangar are large enough for a Sea King-sized helicopter.

Unveiled in 2015, the OPV 1800 is among a series of ‘second-generation’ OPV Damen is marketing along with its Multi-Mission Bay (MM Bay) modules concept.

The MM Bay modules enable the end-user to configure the OPV for a variety of roles without modifying the core design. MM Bay modules for search-and-rescue, mine countermeasures, counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations are available. The OPV 1800 can carry up to three MM Bay modules.

In terms of armaments, the OPV 1800 can be configured with a 76-mm main gun and two 20-mm guns. Its sensor suite can include a medium range surveillance radar and electro-optical fire control system.

In March 2017, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) unveiled an OPV design based on the Damen OPV 1800. As per IHS Jane’s, the MMEA is acquiring three of these OPVs for $167 million U.S.

Pakistan’s acquisitions show that it is pursuing corvette-sized ships to recapitalize its surface fleet. Cost is a major factor behind these decisions, corvettes are cheaper to procure and operate than frigates.

In May, KSEW signed a letter-of-intent with Turkish defence contractor Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret (STM) to construct four 2,300-ton MILGEM Ada corvettes for the Pakistan Navy. It will ink the agreement by the end of June. The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) is receiving two Chinese 1,500-ton maritime patrol vessels (MPV).