Pakistan’s state-owned Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) on 19 August launched a 17000 tonne oiler for the Pakistan Navy (PN); the country’s largest-ever indigenously built ship. The PN Fleet Tanker, as the programme to build the vessel is known, was launched from the company’s facilities in Karachi, in the presence of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It appears that the ship is still yet to be named.
The vessel is the product of a collaboration between the Pakistani Ministry of Defence and Turkey’s STM Defence, which supplied KSEW with pre-manufactured material for the fleet tanker. According to specifications provided by KSEW, the PNFT is 158.4 metres/m (520ft/feet) long and has a maximum width of 22m (72ft). Powered by two diesel engines driving two variable pitch propellers, it can achieve a top speed of 20 knots (37 kilometres per hour). It features a helicopter deck for vertical replenishment. The company does not however give details regarding the ship’s cargo capacity, although images published on KSEW’s website show two replenishment-at-sea (RAS) masts on each sides of the vessel.
The agreement to procure the PNFT from STM Defence was signed by the Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP), which overseas defence procurement, in January 2013. Steel on the PNFT steel was cut in November 2013, and the vessel’s keel was laid a few months later, in March 2014. Once commissioned, the PNFT will be a key element of the PN’s auxiliary support fleet, tasked with refuelling and replenishing naval warships.
Following the launch of the PN’s new ship, Mr. Sharif expressed hope that Pakistan would develop its collaboration with Turkey to build more vessels at the Karachi shipyard, saying that the oiler was a symbol of the ‘time-tested’ friendship between Pakistan and Turkey. Mr. Sharif also congratulated and thanked the Ministry of Defence Production, the Pakistan Navy, STM Defence and the Karachi Shipyard for completing the vessel ahead of time. Together with the People’s Republic of China, Turkey has been playing a significant role in the modernisation of Pakistan’s Navy; a role that has been increasingly noticeable in recent years, as the PN seeks to diversify its sources of supply.