Beijing/Karachi: The navies of China and Pakistan have kicked off their largest naval exercises in the Arabian Sea which included their ‘first joint maritime patrol’, the Chinese official media reported on Monday.
The China-Pakistan Sea Guardians-3 joint maritime exercise, with the theme of ‘Joint Response to Maritime Security Threats’, kicked off at a naval base in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 11 in the waters and airspace of the northern Arabian Sea.
China and Pakistan will conduct their first joint maritime patrol, the China Military Online, the official news portal of the Chinese military, reported.
The two sides will also send observers to each other, while the Chinese observers will participate in the exercise with the Pakistani anti-submarine patrol aircraft, it said.
Exercises between the armed wings of all-weather allies China and Pakistan are an annual affair.
This is the third edition of the exercises of both the allied navies which are for the first time conducting joint operations.
Spanning seven days from November 11 to 17 in the waters and airspace of the northern Arabian Sea, the exercise is divided into two phases, shore-based exchanges, and maritime joint operations, which include training courses on formation manoeuvring, VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure), helicopter cross-deck landing, joint search and rescue, and joint anti-submarine drills.
Participating troops from the Chinese PLA Navy consist of six vessels, including the guided-missile destroyer Zibo, guided-missile frigates Jingzhou and Linyi, and the comprehensive supply ship Qiandaohu, along with two shipborne helicopters and dozens of Marines.
For the Pakistani side, nine vessels, including the PNS Shahjahan and Saif, three shipborne helicopters, four fighter jets, one fixed-wing anti-submarine patrol aircraft, and dozens of Marines are involved in the exercise, state-run Global Times reported.
In May this year, China wrapped up delivery of all four Type 054A/P guided missile frigates to the Pakistani Navy, with the Hangor-class submarines being built simultaneously in China and Pakistan.
The Chinese military experts said this is the largest-ever joint exercise between the Chinese and Pakistani navies compared to the two earlier, the daily reported.
“The exercise is dedicated to enhancing the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, boosting defence cooperation and deepening professional cooperation,” Rear Admiral Liang Yang, commander at a PLA Navy base and the general director of the exercise from the Chinese side, said at the opening ceremony.
Liang said he hopes the two navies can further enhance their joint operational capabilities in dealing with maritime security threats and safeguard maritime peace.
Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi, chief of the naval staff of the Pakistan Navy, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview earlier this year that the Sea Guardian exercises serve the objectives of fostering interoperability and sharing professional experiences to deal with contemporary traditional and non-traditional security threats.
Wei Dongxu, a Chinese military expert, said that China and Pakistan have common interests in jointly safeguarding strategic sea lanes in regions like the Indian Ocean, where piracy, terrorism and other dangerous activities pose threats to the maritime transport of energy and goods.
Outside of joint drills, China-Pakistan naval cooperation also includes high-level visits, expert talks, training exchanges and equipment cooperation, the daily reported.
(Published 13 November 2023, 15:54 IST)