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Damen Shipyards Launches Pakistan’s First Corvette

On 17 May 2019, Damen Shipyards launched the first of two Pakistan Navy (PN) 2,300-ton corvettes from its facilities in Galati, Romania.

According to an official press statement by the PN Director General Public Relations (DGPR), the first ship – previously termed an offshore patrol vessel (OPV) – has a displacement of 2,300 tons.

Slated to join the PN by end of 2019, it will serve as a multi-mission corvette. The second ship will join the PN fleet by mid-2020.

The PN ordered the Damen OPVs in June 2017, and Damen Shipyards cut the steel of the first ship in April 2018. When it signed for the ships, the PN stated that it will use the OPVs for “anti surface [and] anti-air operations, maritime security operations, day/night helicopter operations, combat search-and-rescue, and surveillance and intelligence gathering operations.

Though the PN did not disclose all of the corvette’s specifications, it did reveal that the ship has a total displacement of 2,300 tons. This would place the PN’s ships in the vicinity of Damen’s OPV 2400, the Dutch shipbuilder’s second largest OPV design (behind the OPV 2600).

In an interview with Asian Defence Journal (ADJ), the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, stated that the PN will configure the ships with “indigenously developed SSMs (surface-to-surface missiles)” and “close-in-weapon-system, anti-aircraft guns, and a modern EW (electronic warfare) suite.”

However, if based on the OPV 2400, the PN could potentially equip the ships with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. But this is contingent on the PN’s OPV 1900 having space for mission modules, which it can employ for ASW and other applications, such as mine countermeasures (MCM).

It is evident that the Damen ship is a component of the PN’s fleet modernization efforts.

By terming it as a corvette and earmarking it for anti-ship missiles (AShM) – potentially the long-range Harba AShM – the corvette is more than simply a patrol vessel. It will join the forthcoming MILGEM Ada corvettes (of which one might be a frigate), giving the PN six new 2,000 ton to 2,500-ton ships.

In an interview with Mönch’s Naval Forces, the PN CNS is “looking at the acquisition of more corvettes for effective contribution in the Regional Maritime Security.” This could be an indication of the PN exploring the idea of procuring additional MILGEMs and/or OPV 1900s. Both outcomes are plausible…

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