China and Pakistan join forces under the sea

(From the National Interest)

By Koh Swee Lean Collin

While attention has been on the simmering tensions in the East and South China Seas lately, a small event took place in the East China Sea off the coast of Shanghai. Pakistan Navy (PN) guided missile frigate Shamsheer and fleet replenishment vessel Nasr drilled with a pair of PLA Navy Type-054A Jiangkai II frigates, Xuzhou and Yangzhou from December 31 to January 1.

Chinese Navy ships in Indian Ocean

Chinese Navy ships in Indian Ocean

According to Chinese reports, the fast-paced, high-intensity exercise involved day and night maneuvers including joint escort, counter-piracy and live-firing. This constitutes a logical progression from the limited scope when this bilateral exercise first began in 2003 as a simple search-and-rescue drill. The objectives of these exercises are to hone interoperability between the two navies, while affording PN personnel the opportunity to get acquainted with Chinese technologies.

What was new in this latest iteration, however, was the inclusion of an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) component for the first time. Shamsheer, Xuzhouand Yangzhou cooperatively tracked a simulated submarine threats in the exercises. The ships relied on close communication, information-sharing and passive sonar techniques to triangulate the position of the suspected ‘enemy’ submarine, eventually striking it with a simulated ASW torpedo by one of the Chinese frigates.

This exercise marks yet another milestone for Sino-Pakistani naval cooperation. Read more


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