On October 06, Karachi Shipyards & Engineering Works (KSEW) cut the steel of the first of potentially 20 new 38.8 metre patrol boats for the Pakistan Navy (PN).
According to the PN, the patrol boat is an indigenous design. In fact, one of the lead entities participating in the program is the PN’s in-house design bureau, the Naval Research and Development Institute (NRDI).
Interestingly, Swiftships, a shipbuilding and marine engineering company based out of Louisiana, United States, is also one of the lead contractors of the PN patrol boat program. In fact, according to Swiftships’ tweets, it is “providing value-added engineering services, kits supply and supervisory assistance” to KSEW.
Swiftships says that the PN is aiming to commission the first boat in 2023.
Though the PN requires a total of 20 patrol boats, it is unclear if all of them will be of this specific design. It is possible that the PN could divide this program into multiple tranches where future boats have certain design changes or capability additions.
Neither Swiftships nor the PN have revealed the full specifications of the patrol boat. However, with a length of 38.8 m, the boat could have a displacement of around 200 to 250 tons.
In terms of armament, the patrol boat seems to be equipped with a 25 mm Aselsan STOP remote-operated weapons station (RWS) at the bow, and an Aselsan STAMP RWS towards the stern.
The sensor load out consists of a main search radar and, potentially, electronic support measures (ESM).
Though Swiftships is a participating contractor, it seems that the patrol boat itself is an original design of the NRDI. Thus, drawing parallels between this design and any of Swiftships’ designs would not provide a correct assessment of size, specifications, or capabilities.
That said, boats of this size generally leverage a wide range of capabilities. In fact, the configuration that the PN has opted for with its design is conservative in scope. For example, Swiftships offers a 35 m design that can carry a 30 mm gun and lightweight precision-guided Griffin missiles.
Thus, the PN is approaching this program with a specific focus – general maritime security.
In addition to this patrol boat program, the PN is also acquiring offshore patrol vessels (OPV) from Damen Group in the Netherlands. Currently, the PN has two Damen OPV 1900s in service (i.e., PNS Yarmook and PNS Tabuk), and two larger OPV 2600s on order.
Together, it seems that the OPV 1900/2600 and patrol boat programs point towards a greater investment towards dedicated sea-policing and patrolling capabilities…
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