By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - The keel laying ceremony of the first of the four MILGEM Ada class corvettes, to be built by Turkey for the Pakistan Navy, was held in Istanbul, the navy said on Thursday.
The ceremony at the Istanbul Naval Shipyard (INSY), was attended by senior defense and military officials of the two countries, including Pakistan's Chief Naval Overseas (Turkey), Commodore Syed Rizwan Khalid, said a statement from Pakistan Navy's media wing.
In July 2018, Pakistan’s navy signed a contract for the acquisition of four MILGEM-class ships with Turkey's state-owned defense firm ASFAT. MILGEM vessels are 99 meters long, have a displacement capacity of 24,00 tons and a speed of 29 nautical miles.
MILGEM anti-submarine combat frigates, which can be hidden from the radar, will further enhance the defense capability of the Pakistan Navy.
While two corvettes will be built in Turkey, the next two will be built in Pakistan through technology transfer.
"Construction of corvettes in Pakistan is aimed to provide impetus to local ship building industry and further enhance Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (Pakistan Navy's specialized shipbuilding division) capabilities," the statement said.
These ships, it added, would be among the most technologically advanced platforms of Pakistan Navy and significantly contribute in maintaining peace, stability and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region.
Speaking at the ceremony, Rizwan said the project was a manifestation of strong relations between Pakistan and Turkey.
Appreciating the MILGEM project for its construction standards, outfitting and performance, he acknowledged the professional competence of Turkish defense firm and INSY for "their meticulous efforts in meeting the timelines despite global crisis of COVID-19 pandemic."
In October 2019, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan along with Pakistan Navy Chief Adm. Zafar Mahmood Abbasi had cut the first metal plate of the first MILGEM Ada class corvette during a ceremony in Istanbul.
Turkey is one of the 10 countries worldwide able to build, design, and maintain warships using its own national capabilities.