Pakistan Navy is the naval branch of the Pakistan Armed forces. It came into existence by the transfer of personnel and equipment from the Royal Indian Navy that ceased to exist following the partition of British India through a parliamentary act that established the independence of Pakistan and India from the United Kingdom on 14 August 1947.
Objectives of the Pakistan Navy
- Its primary objective is to ensure the defense of sea lanes of communication in Pakistan.
- Safeguarding Pakistan’s maritime interests by executing national policies through the exercise of military effect, and diplomatic and humanitarian activities in support of these objectives.
- In addition to its war services, the Navy has mobilized its war assets to conduct humanitarian rescue operations at home as well as participating in multinational task forces mandated by the United Nations to prevent seaborne terrorism and privacy off the coasts.
A Volunteer Force
The Pakistan Navy is a volunteer force that has been in conflict with neighboring India twice on its borders and has been repeatedly deployed in the Indian Ocean to act as a military advisor to Gulf Arab states and other friendly nations during the events of multinational conflict as part of its commitment to the United Nations.
Components of Navy
The Navy has several components including,
- Naval Aviation
- Maritime Security Agency ( a coast guard)
Since its commencement on 14 August 1947. the defensive role of the Navy has been expanded from securing its sealines and becoming the custodian of Pakistan’s second-strike capability with an ability to launch underwater missile systems to target enemy positions.
Commander of Navy
The Navy is commanded by the chief of Naval Staff, a four-star admiral, who is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. The chief of naval staff is nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by the President of Pakistan.
The current chief is Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi who was appointed on October 7, 2020.
History of Pakistan Navy
let us have a brief look at the history of the Pakistan navy.
Division of Royal Indian Navy in 1947
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, addressed the men and officers of HMIS Godavari in March 1948:
Today is a historic day for Pakistan, doubly for those of us in the Navy. The Dominion of Pakistan has come into being and with it, a new Navy–the Royal Pakistan Navy–has been born. I have proud to have been appointed to command it and serve with you at this time. In the coming months, it will be my duty and yours to build up our Navy into a happy and efficient force.
Pakistan Navy Came into Existence
The Pakistan Navy came into existence on 14 August 1947 with the establishment of Pakistan as an independent state from the United Kingdom. The Armed Forces Reconstitution Committee (ARFC) under British Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck divided the shares and assets of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) between India and Pakistan in the ratio of 2:1 with Pakistan receiving the two sloops, two frigates, four minesweepers, two naval trawlers, and four harbor launches.
The AFRC allocated about two-thirds of the assets of the Royal Indian Navy to India while one-third was given to Pakistan despite Pakistan having inherited the high percentage of delta areas on its coasts and the large maritime area covering the Arabian Sea on the West and the Bay of Bengal on East.
The Navy endured a difficult history–with only 200 officers and 3000 sailors being inherited into the Navy–the most senior being Captain HMS Choudri who had little experience in the military staffing. Of the 200 officers, twenty of these had come from the Executive Branch of the Royal Indian Navy and only six officers were the mechanical engineers while there were no electrical engineers or specialists to care for the electrical systems needed to be looked after in the weapon systems or the powering up the machinery in the vessels as a whole.
The navy suffered perennial problems with inadequate staff, lack of operational bases, lack of financial support, and poor technological and personnel resources. Secondly, it grew out as the smallest military uniform branch contributing to its lack of importance in the federal budgets as well as the problems relating to its institutional infrastructure.
Launching a Recruitment Program for the Nation
To overcome the difficulties of lack of facilities and machinery maintenance as the only Naval dockyard on the subcontinent was located only in Bombay in India, the Navy launched a recruitment program for the young nation, starting in East Pakistan which proved to be very difficult to sustain the program, therefore it was moved back to West Pakistan to concentrate recruitment in West Pakistan. Furthermore, the Navy’s procurement was greatly determined b its war role and it had to struggle for a role for itself throughout its history from the beginning
The Beginning: 1947-1964
The Pakistan Navy saw no action during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947 as all the fighting was restricted to land warfare. However, the Navy remained under pressure during the conflict when the Navy began the evacuation of Pakistan nationals from the disputed and hostile places, with frigates constantly and continuously running their operations on a regular day and night basis.
Rear Admiral James Wilfried Jefford had to draw a Short Term Emergency Plan (STEP) to work up the frigates and naval defenses. In 1948, the directorate-general for Naval Intelligence (DGIN), a staff corp was established under the command of Syed Mohammad Ahsan. Finally, in 1947, war came to a ceasefire, the Navy began the expansion of Naval facilities and bases establishing a navy headquarter in Karachi as well as acquiring the first O class destroyer from Royal Navy in 1949
Donation of Two Naval Destroyers
The operational history of the Pakistan Navy began when the Royal Navy donated two battle destroyers, the PNS Tipu Sultan and PNS Tariq.
The Tipu Sultan was given commissioned on 30 September 1949, under Commander P.S. Evans while Tariq was placed under command of Afzal Rehman Khan.
The two destroyers formed the 25th Destroyer Squadron of the Pakistan Navy.
Nationalization and Consolidation Program
In 1950, The Navy went under extensive nationalization and consolidation program in which large numbers of officers promoted, were native officers of the Pakistan army. The dockyard logistic facilities and engineering units were formed while further rigorous efforts were pushed to integrate the naval presence in East Pakistan into a fully developed program.
In 1956, the Parliament unanimously passed the 1956 constitution and proclaimed the State of Pakistan as the Islamic Republic. The prefix Royal was dropped and the service was re-designated as the Pakistan Navy. The order of precedence of the three services changed from Navy, Army Air Force to Army, Navy, Air Force.
Pakitan Participation in ANti-Communist Defence Pacts
The acquisition of a few additional warships from 1956-to 1963—-two destroyers, eight coastal minesweepers, and an oiler, was the direct result of Pakistan’ Participation in the anti-Communist defense pact of SEATO and CENTO. During this time, the Navy made an effort to acquire the first submarine but attempts were rebuffed as the political situation in Pakistan had worsened in the 1950s
Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 (Operation Somnath)
During the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, the Indian Air Force’s repeated stories and raids disrupted and effectively distracted the PAF’s air missions in the conflict, leading the Navy to jump into the conflict.
On 2 September, the Navy first deployed its long-range submarine, the PNS Ghazi charging the gathering intelligence management and analysis of Indian naval movements. Ghazi was a lead class submarine and flagship submarine of Pakistan and was commanded by Commander Karamat Rahman Niazi. Ghazi was not only restricted to making engagements with Indian naval frigates, missile boats, or corvettes, it was also charged with diverting threats posed by INS Vikrant.
On 6 September, a combatant squadron comprising four destroyers, one frigate, one cruiser, and one submarine under Commodore S.M. Anwar was deployed to the city of Dwarka to destroy the radar facility used by Indian Air Force. The radar facilities and naval facilities of Dwarka were shelled and bombarded. The radar installation was shelled during the bombardment but neither the radar was damaged nor were any casualties reported. The Indian Navy did not take any counter-actions against the naval raid: the destroyer squadron remained 100, miles away from Dwarka, changing the course of the anti-aircraft mission.
Apart from carrying out a successful bombardment of the coastal town of Dwarka–codenamed Operation Dwarka –the navy’s submarine Ghazi was developed. Pakistan’s first submarine remained the flagship submarine for Pakistan Navy until deployed against the Indian Navy’s western fleet at Bombay port. Ghazi remained on the course on 22 September detecting the sonar contacts with the Indian navy. After two weeks of chasing down the sonar contacts, the Ghazi caught up the roaming frigate INS Kuthar Ghazi, while underwater fired four home torpedoes hit its designated target, although Ghazi failed to sink the frigate. On 23 September, Ghazi ended her operations when it cleared the coasts of naval borders of Pakistan on its way to Karachi Nacak Dockyard.
The success of Operation Dwarka
Operation Dwarka was an ultimate success for Pakistan Navy, a daring naval offense against India that had achieved greater symbolic and strategic values for the navy. The attack surprised the Indian Navy and realized the significant threat posed by the Pakistan navy. After the war, the Indian Navy went into an extreme level of modernization and procurement of the naval system whilst the Pakistan navy failed to meet the Indian Navy’s extreme expansion and modernization program after the 1965 war.
The operational capacity of the Pakistan navy was limited and decreased as compared to the Indian Navy during the 1965-70 period. After the war, the navy, as well as the government, noted the Indian navy’s expansion that allowed the navy to acquire three Daphne class submarines from France while the navy was operating tech class submarines from the United States and established a naval air service, comprising of fighter jets, but this was impossible to achieve. The lack of funds and the air force itself objected to the plans fearing risk and losing its aircraft in the open-sea operation.
Indo-Pakistan War of 1971
The Pakistan navy had a poor presence in conducting operations in East Pakistan, it had lack the capacity of conducting offensive operations in the deep Bay of Bengal. The entire Navy was deployed in West Pakistan and instead, in East Pakistan, the Navy relied on deploying the Naval Special Service Group and the entire formation of Pakistan Marines(PM) initially charged with conducting expeditionary operations.
The city of Karachi, the hub of Pakistan’s maritime trade, housed the combatant headquarters of the Pakistan Navy and almost the entire naval fleet. Although proposals were made to increase the naval presence in East Pakistan no serious reforms were made.
Operation Jackpot and Operation Barisal
On 15 March 1971, the Navy special forces launched the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operation codenamed Operation Jackpot and followed by a full-scale offense, codename Operation Barisal in April 1971. This is followed by the development of PNS Ghazi on East Pakistan, initially charged with gathering intelligence management on Indian Naval efforts on East Pakistan.
At then end of East-Pakistan crisis….We (Pakistan navy, Eastern Command) had no intelligence and hence, were both deaf and blind with the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force pounding us day and night…….
(Admiral Mohammad Sharif)
Under the direction of former Commander of Navy, Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan, the Navy’s presence in East Pakistan was tripled. In 1969, Admiral Ahsan was sent to East Pakistan and became the unified commander of the Pakistan Armed Forces in East Pakistan. The Eastern Naval Command posed a significant threat to the existing Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Command. Therefore, the Indian Navy launched Operation Jackpot to disturb the Eastern High Command and its existence in the Eastern wing.
On 4 December, the Indian Navy launched a naval attack, Operation Trident, consisting of 3 OSA class missile boats escorted by two anti-submarine patrol vessels. Nearing the Karachi port, they detected Pakistan’s naval presence and launched their SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles and as a result, the PNS Muhafiz and PNS Khyber were both sunk while the PNS Shahjahan was damaged beyond repair, the Indian Naval Attack was an ultimate victory in the Naval history of India. with no damage to the Indian Navy’s attacking squadron.
The sinking of a Warship
On 8 December, the Hanger, a Daphne class submarine of the Navy, sank the Indian frigate INS Khukri off the coast of Gujrat, India. This was the first sinking of a warship by a submarine since World War II that resulted in the loss of 18 officers and 176 sailors of the Indian Navy.
The Indian Navy retaliates when commencing another Indian Navy attack on Pakistan’s coast, codenamed, operation Python, which occurred on 8 December 1971. A small group of Indian vessels, consisting of a missile boat and two frigates, approached Karachi. The Indian ships sank the Panamian vessel Gulg Star, while Pakistan’s Navy’s PNS Dacca and British Ship SS Harmattan were damaged.
Success of Python
Python was a complete success for the Indian Navy, a psychological trauma for Pakistan Navy, the human and material cost for the Pakistan navy was extremely high. The civilian pilots from PIA volunteered to serve in the surveillance missions with the PAF after the PAF launched the seaborne operation after the Indian naval attack due to miscommunication and panic attacks.
The Navy’s only long-range submarine, Ghazi, was deployed to the area but according to neutral sources, it sank en route under mysterious circumstances. Pakistani authorities state that
“It either can sink due internal explosion or detonation of mines which it was laying at the time.”
According to Defence Magazine, Pakistan Defence Journal, the attack on Karachi, Dhaka, Chittagong and the loss of Ghazi, the Navy no longer was able to match the threat of the Indian navy as it was already outclassed by the Indian Navy after the war in 1965.
Damage Inflicted by the Indian Navy and Air Force
The Damage inflicted by the Indian Navy and Air Force on the ON stood at seven Gunboats, one minesweeper, two destroyers, three patrol crafts belonging to the Pakistan Coast Guard, 18 Cargo, supply, and communication vessels, and large scale damage inflicted on the naval base and docks in the coastal town of Karachi.
Three merchants of Navy ships: Anwar Baksh, Pasni, and Madhmati, and ten smaller vessels were captured. Around 1900 personnel were lost while 1413 servicemen were captured by Indian forces in Dhaka.
The Indian Navy lost 18 officers and 176 sailors and a frigate while another frigate was damaged and a Breguet Alize was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force.
Restructuring and building towards modern Navy: 1972-1989
After the 1971 war, steps were taken to modernize and increase the operational scope of the Navy.
In January 1972, the Bhutto Administration formed the POW Commission to investigate the number of war prisoners held by the Indian Army in the East and submitted the request to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to investigate the causes of the war failure with India in 1971. In 1973, the Navy NHQ was permanently moved to Islamabad to provide synergy with Army GHQ in Rawalpindi.
Establishment of Naval Aviation
In 1974, the Naval Aviation branch was established with the transfer of Westland Sea king helicopters from the United kingdom in 1975, followed by a test firing of the surface to ship Exocet missile as a befitting response to the Indian Navy in 1979. With the ability to fire the land-based Exocet missile from a reconnaissance aircraft, the navy became the first of its kind in South Asia to acquire a land-based ballistic missile.
Acquiring Military Computers
In 1976, the Navy moved towards successfully acquiring military computers from the British firm, the Ferranti, to increase the defense of its coastlines.
Establishment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
The War Enquiry Commission noted the lack of strategic communication and grand strategy between the four branches of the military during the conflict and wars with India, recommending the establishment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee to maintain strategic military communication between the inter-services and the federal government.
Four-star rank Admiral
In 1976, the Navy saw its first four-star rank admiral when Mohammad Shariff was promoted to this rank, and later became the first admiral to be appointed as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Committee in 1977.
Proposal of Aid for Pakistan
In 1982, the Reagan administration submitted the proposal of US $ 3.2 billion aid for Pakistan that was aimed towards economic uplift and security assistance to the United States Congress at the Navy entered in the successful negotiation of obtaining the Harpoon System, despite the strong Indian lobby opposing and objecting of this deal.
Mirage 5V aircraft
In 1985, the Navy bought the Mirage 5V aircraft for the naval role and was equipped with the Exocet A39 missile that gives the capability of sea denial to the Pakistan Navy.
Deployment of War Assets
Eventually, the Pakistan Navy began its wartime deployment in Middle Eastern countries through the Persian Gulf and deployed its war assets in Saudi Arabia in support of the U.S. Navy’s fleet in the wake of events involving the Iran-Iraq war and tensions with Libya.
Self Reliance, engagement, and covert operations (1990-1999)
Since 1987, the Pakistan Navy had been interested in acquiring the Type 21 frigates from the United States and the Navy turned to the Royal Navy for an intermediate purchase which was approved in 1993 whose expensive refitting and technological upgrades had to be carried out by Pakistan itself at their Naval Base in Karachi over years.
In 1994, Pakistan Navy entered into lengthy, complicated, and controversial negotiations with France to acquire the long-range submarine technology by dismissing the idea of procuring nuclear-powered submarines from China due to noise issues that the Indian Navy was quietly able to track.
Operation United Shield
In 1994, the Navy was deployed in support of the U.S. Navy and extended its support in 1995 to participate in Operation United Shield to conclude its side of operation after evacuating personnel and equipment of the army, marines, and air force.
Transfer of the maritime patrol aircraft
By 1996, the Brown amendment was introduced that allowed the uplifting of the embargo on Pakistan, allowing the transfer of the maritime patrol aircraft to the Navy.
In 1997, the controversy over the technology transfer from France had tarnished the public image of the Navy with the arrest of the Naval chief when several cases were leveled on political and military leadership of the navy.
Despite India’s strong objection to France, the air-independent propulsion was transferred to Pakistan which built the Agosta 90B-class submarine, capable of operating in the Indian Ocean and at higher submarine depth.
In 1999, the Navy saw the public disagreement with the federal government over the issue of the Pakistan Army’s engagement with the Indian Army in Kashmir and over the rightful appointment of the admiral Fasih Bokhari as Chairman of joint chiefs. Pakistan Navy was forced to deploy its existing war assets when the Indian Navy deployed its warships near Korangi Creek Cantonment and Port of Karachi with their codename: Operation Talwar.
On 10 August 1999, a serious incident took place in SIr Creek region when the Indian Air Force shot down the Naval Aviation aircraft resulting in the deaths of 16 naval personnel, mostly officers.
On 29 August 1999, another aircraft of the Navy, P3C Orion, was lost due to an accident with the loss of twenty-one lives.
Fielding a Lawsuit
Over the issue of the Indian Air Force’s shot down of the aircraft, the Navyfield a lawsuit against the Indian Air Force at the International Court of Justice, but the claim was dismissed due to the over-reaching of the court’s mandate.
Pakistan fully endrose the requiremnets of a strong navy, capable of safeguarding Pakistan’s sea frontiers and her Lines of Communication, monitoring and protecting her exclusive zone. Continuous efforts are at hand to provide the best avaliable equipments to the Navy despite all economic constraints
War on Terror in Afghanistan and operations in North-West(2001-present)
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the sanctions on Pakistan were eventually uplifted, allowing the Navy to procure the U.S built weapon systems and warships to regain its ability to operate in the Indian Ocean as it became involved in war preparations during the standoff with India in 2001-2002.
Acquiring Wintage Aircraft Proposals
In 2003-2004, there were several proposals made for acquiring the vintage aircraft carriers but the Navy itself had dismissed the idea since the country has not aspired to have an aircraft capability.
In 2002-03, the Pakistan navy development took place in the Indian Ocean, participating in the naval drills to combat terrorism from seaborne platforms, and eventually entered into defense negotiations with China for acquiring the technology to design and building the guided missiles frigates-the F-22P guided missile frigates were eventually built-in 2006-15.
Since 2004, the Navy’s deployment took place in the Indian Ocean, playing a crucial role in the multinational NAVCENT in Bahrain, and took the l; leadership of the CTF-150 and CTF_151 as well as taking active participation in the Operation Enduring Freedom in 2006-10.
Participation in the Exercise Inspired Union
In 2008, the task force group consisting of PNS Badr, PNS Shah Jahan, PNS Nasr, and the Pakistan Air Force’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal participated in the Exercise Inspired Union with the U.S Navy in the Indian Ocean to develop skills in the prevention of seaborne terrorism.
Despite its seaborne mission, the Navy had played an active role in controlling the insurgency in the former tribal belt in Western Pakistan, mostly taking roles in managing logistics and intelligence gathering as well as conducting ground operations with the army in Western areas to track down the Al-Qaeda operatives.
TTP Group and Al-Qaeda
From 2010-to 11, the Navy was in a brief direct conflict with the violent TTPgroup and Al-Qaeda and its naval intelligence was able to track down the infiltrated militants within the ranks of the Navy.
Saudi-led blockade of Yemen
In 2015, the navy was deployed in support of the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen after accepting the request from Saudi Arabia.
As of current, the Navy continues to increase its operational scope in the Indian Ocean and reportedly successfully entered into defense talks with turkey to jointly build the MILGEM Project in Pakistan in 2018-19 while it had earlier announced to start the building of the program of the nuclear submarine for its current operational capabilities in 2013.