On 17 May 2019, Damen Shipyards launched the first of two Pakistan Navy (PN) 2,300-ton corvettes from its facilities in Galati, Romania. The first ship – previously termed an offshore patrol vessel (OPV) – has a displacement of 2,300 tons. These ships are slated to join the PN by end of 2019, and will serve as a multi-mission corvette. The second ship will join the PN fleet by mid-2020.
The PN ordered the Damen OPVs in June 2017, and Damen Shipyards cut the steel of the first ship in April 2018. The expected role of the OPV is to participate in anti-surface, anti-air operations, maritime security operations, day/night helicopter operations, combat search-and-rescue, and surveillance and intelligence gathering operations.
Even though the corvette’s specifications were not completely revealed, it was revealed that the ship has a total displacement of 2,300 tons. This would place the PN’s ships in the vicinity of Damen’s OPV 2400, the Dutch shipbuilder’s second largest OPV design (behind the OPV 2600).
Pakistan Navy plans to configure the ships with indigenously developed surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) and close-in-weapon-system (CIWS), anti-aircraft guns, and a modern electronic warfare (EW) suite. However, if based on the OPV 2400, the Pakistan Navy could potentially equip the ships with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. But this is contingent on the Pakistan Navy’s OPV 1900 having space for mission modules, which it can employ for ASW and other applications, such as mine countermeasures (MCM). It is evident that the Damen ship is a component of the Pakistan Navy’s fleet modernization efforts.
By terming it as a corvette and earmarking it for anti-ship missiles (AShM) – potentially the long-range Harba AShM – the corvette is more than simply a patrol vessel. It will join the forthcoming MILGEM Ada corvettes (of which one might be a frigate), giving the Pakistan Navy six new 2,000 ton to 2,500-ton vessels.
[Jane’s Defence, Naval Today, Defense World]