The Pakistan Navy
is the naval warfare
branch of Pakistan Armed Forces
, responsible for Pakistan
‘s 1,046 kilometres (650 mi) of coastline along the Arabian Sea
, and the defence of important civilian harbours and military bases. The Pakistan Navy came into the existence after the independence
of Pakistan in 1947, and is headed by Admiral Asif Sandila
. Navy Day
is celebrated on 8 September in commemoration of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
The Pakistan Navy’s current and primary role is to protect the country’s economic and military interests at home and abroad, executing the foreign and defence policies of the Government of Pakistan
through the exercise of military effect, diplomatic activities and other activities in support of these objectives.
In the 21st century, the Pakistan Navy also focuses on limited overseas operations, and has played a vital role in the establishment of the Pakistan Antarctic Programme
The Pakistan Navy is supported by the Pakistan Coast Guard
, Pakistan Marines
, and the Maritime Security Agency
(MSA), the combat paramilitary division of the Pakistan Navy. The Navy is undergoing extensive modernisation and expansion
as part of Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror
. Since 2001, the Pakistan Navy has increased and expanded its operational scope, and has been given greater national and international responsibility in countering the threat of sea-based global terrorism, drug smuggling, and piracy. In 2004, Pakistan Navy became a member of the primarily NATO
Combined Task Forces CTF-150
The Constitution of Pakistan
makes the President of Pakistan
the civilian Commander-in-Chief. The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), by statute a four star admiral, is appointed by the President with the consultation and confirmation needed from the Prime Minister of Pakistan
. The Chief of Naval Staff is subordinate to the civilian Defence Minister
and Secretary of Defence
, and commands the Navy.
Today is a historic day for Pakistan, doubly so 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 am 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
The Navy endured a difficult history, only 200 officers and 3000 sailors were inherited to the Navy, the most senior being Commodore HMS Chaudhry.
The Navy suffered perennial problems with inadequate staff, lack of operational bases, and poor technological and personnel resources. It was also the smallest branch of the armed forces in terms of technical staff, equipment, and officers, as compared to the army
and air force
Despite these difficulties, the Navy faced the challenges, and launched a high profile recruitment program for the young nation, starting in East-Pakistan
When it proved difficult to sustain the program in East Pakistan, the Navy shifted its focus to West Pakistan.
The Pakistan Navy saw no action during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
, as all fighting was restricted to land. However, Commodore Sidik Chaudhry
took part in operational planning, and the Navy evacuated Pakistani nationals from disputed and hostile areas, with its frigates operating continuously.
Rear-Admiral James Wilfred Jefford
, Chief of Naval Staff, had created a “Short-term Emergency Plan (STEP)” to work up the frigates and naval defences.
In 1948, the directorate-general for Naval Intelligence
(DGNI), a staff corps, was established under Commander Syed Mohammad Ahsan
, who served as its first Director-General, in Karachi. When the 1947 war came to an end, the Navy began expanding its facilities and bases, establishing a headquarters in Karachi. In 1949 it acquired its first O Class destroyer
from the Royal Navy
The operational history of the Pakistan Navy began in 1949 with the Royal Navy
‘s donation of two battle destroyers, the PNS Tippu Sultan
and PNS Tariq
. The Tippu Sultan
was commissioned on 30 September 1949, under Commander P.S. Evans, whilst the Tariq
was placed under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Afzal Rahman Khan
. The two destroyers formed the 25th Destroyer Squadron. The PNS Jhelum
and PNS Tughril
, under Commander Muzaffar Hasan
, also joined the Royal Pakistan Navy. In 1950, the Navy underwent extensive nationalization and consolidation programs, in which large numbers of native officers were promoted. Dockyard, logistics, and engineering services were formed, and vigorous efforts were made to integrate the navy presence in East-Pakistan
into a full development plan for the navy, thereby creating opportunities for people in East-Pakistan to participate in the build-up. During this period, certain key positions in Naval Combatant Headquarters (NHQ) were given to native officers, in place of Royal Navy
Commander Khalid Jamil was appointed as the navy’s first Pakistani Deputy Chief of Naval Staff
(DCNS), while Rear-Admiral James Wilfred Jefford
served as first chief of naval staff until 1953. Jefford was assisted by Deputy Chief of Staff
Commander M. A. Alavi, whilst other administrative positions were redesigned and created by the Pakistan Government
. In the mid-1950s, the Ministry of Finance
awarded contracts to the Pakistan Army
‘s Corps of Engineers
for the construction of NHQ in Karachi and the Karachi Naval Dockyard
. During this time, a number of goodwill missions were carried out by the navy’s combatant ships, and non-combat missions were conducted under the auspices of the Royal Navy
. Pakistan Navy ships cruised and visited ports worldwide with the Royal Navy. In 1950, Commodore Chaudhry took command of PNS Shamsheer
; in 1953 he became the navy’s first Pakistani chief of naval staff, handing over command of the 25th Destroyer Squadron to Captain
Romould Nalecz Tyminski, the first Polish officer to serve in the Pakistan Navy.
In 1956, the Parliament of Pakistan
unanimously passed the 1956 Constitution of Pakistan
and proclaimed the State of Pakistan as an Islamic Republic
under the new constitution. The prefix Royal
was dropped, and the service was re-designated the Pakistan Navy, or “PN”. The PN Jack and Pakistan flag replaced the Queen’s colour
and the White Ensign
respectively. The order of precedence of the three services changed from Navy, Army, Air force to Army, Navy, Air Force. In February 1956, the British government
announced the transfer of several major surface combat ships to Pakistan. These warships − a cruiser and four destroyers − were purchased with funds made available under the US Military Assistance Program
. 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’s participation in the anti-Communist defence pacts SEATO
. During this time the Navy made an effort to acquire its first submarine, but the attempts were rebuffed as the political situation in Pakistan worsened in the 1950s.
Indo-Pakistan war of 1965
The Navy was well-prepared when, following the 1965 Kashmir incursion
, war again erupted between Pakistan and India.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Afzal Rahman Khan
ordered all units of the Pakistan Navy to take up defensive positions off the coast, but did not order any offensive operations in the Bay of Bengal.
As the Indian Air Force
‘s repeated sorties and raids disrupted PAF
operations, the Navy assumed a more aggressive role in the conflict. On 2 September, the Navy deployed its first long-range submarine, the PNS Ghazi
, which was charged with gathering intelligence on Indian naval movements. The flagship submarine of Pakistan, it was directed by Commander Karamat Rahman Niazi
(later a four-star admiral). In addition to engaging Indian frigates, missiles boats, or corvettes, Ghazi
was also tasked with diverting threats posed by the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant
On the night of 7/8 September, a Pakistani squadron comprising four destroyers, one frigate, one cruiser, and one submarine, under the command of Commodore S.M. Anwar, launched Operation Dwarka
, an attack on radar facilities used by the Indian Air Force in the small coastal town of Dwarka
. The ensuing bombardment failed to damage the radar installation, and no casualties were reported, but the daring surprise raid – and the Indian Navy’s failure to take any counter-action – was a welcomed symbolic victory for Pakistan. The destroyer squadron quickly withdrew 100 miles from Dwarka.Ghazi
was deployed against the Indian Navy’s western fleet at Bombay
On 22 September, after two weeks of chasing down sonar contacts, the submarine caught up with the roaming frigate INS Kuthar
, and fired four homing torpedoes. Two hits were claimed, but the Indian warship didn’t sink. On 23 September, Ghazi
ended her operations and proceeded to Karachi Naval Dockyard
had greatly increased the prestige of the Pakistan Navy.
It had also alerted Indian commanders to the significant threat posed by the Pakistan Navy, and to its own naval shortcomings.
After the war, the Indian Navy began a comprehensive program of modernization and procurement of naval systems, which the Pakistan Navy failed to counter. The operational capacity of the Pakistan Navy was limited, and decreased as compared to the Indian Navy in the 1965–70 period. The Pakistanis did, however, acquire three Daphné class submarine
from France, while operating Tench class submarine
from the United States, and established the Naval special forces
The Navy also attempted to establish a naval air service, composed of fighter jets, but this proved impossible due to budgetary constraints and the opposition of the Air Force, which was reluctant to risk and lose its aircraft in open-sea operations.
Indifference toward naval affairs by then-President General Ayub Khan further deteriorated and jeopardized the operational scope of the Navy. In 1970, General Yahya Khan began a series of reforms which increased the Navy’s role in national defense.
Indo-Pakistan war of 1971
The Pakistan Navy was poorly represented in East Pakistan
), and lacked capacity for conducting offensive operations in the Bay of Bengal
. The fleet was almost entirely deployed in (West) Pakistan. In East Pakistan, the Navy deployed 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. Although proposals were made to increased the naval presence in East Pakistan, no serious reforms were made. On 15 March 1971, the Navy special forces
launched a counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operation codenamed Operation Jackpot
, and in April followed it up with a full scale offensive codenamed Operation Barisal
. This was followed by the deployment of PNS Ghazi
East Pakistan, initially for the purpose of gathering intelligence on Indian naval movements.
In 1969, former Commander of the Navy Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan
was sent to East Pakistan, and became overall commander of Pakistani armed forces there.
Under his direction, the navy’s presence in East Pakistan was tripled.
Command-size naval assets were expanded, with an administrative unit operating in East Pakistan. The Eastern Naval Command posed a significant threat to the Indian Navy’s counterpart Eastern Naval Command
Therefore, the Indian Navy launched an operation (somewhat confusingly, also codenamed ‘Jackpot’), to disrupt the Eastern High Command and threaten its existence in the Eastern wing. With East Pakistan having been surrounded on all three landward sides by the Indian Army
, the PN was attempting to prevent India from blocking the coast as well.
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 Karachi’s port area, they launched SS-N-2 Styx
anti-ship missiles, which the obsolescent Pakistani naval ships had no viable defense against. PNS Muhafiz
and PNS Khyber
were both sunk, while PNS Shahjahan
was damaged beyond repair. It was a stunning victory for India, with no damage to their navy’s attacking squadron. On 8 December 1971, the Hangor
, a Daphné class submarine
, sank the Indian frigate INS Khukri
off the coast of Gujarat, India. This was the first sinking of a warship by a submarine since World War II
, and resulted in the loss of 18 officers and 176 sailors of the Indian navy.
The same submarine also severely damaged another warship, INS Kirpan
Attempts were made by Pakistan to counter the Indian missile boat threat by carrying out bombing raids over Okha harbour, the forward base of the missile boats. The Indian Navy retaliated with an attack on the Pakistani coast, named Operation Python
, on the night of 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 Gulf Star, while the Pakistan Navy’s PNS Dacca
and the British ship SS Harmattan
were damaged. Python
was a complete success for the Indian Navy, and a psychological trauma for Pakistan Navy, the human and material cost severely cutting into its combat capability.
Civilian pilots from Pakistan International Airlines
volunteered to conduct surveillance missions with the PAF
, but this proved less than helpful when they misidentified a Pakistan Navy frigate, PNS Zulfikar
, as an Indian missile boat.
PAF planes made several attack runs before finally identifying the Zulfikar
The friendly attack resulted in further loss of navy personnel, as well as the loss of the ship, which was severely damaged. The Pakistan Navy’s operational capabilities were now virtually extinct, and morale plummeted.
Indian Navy observers noted that the “PAF pilots failed to recognize the difference between a large PNS Zulfikar frigate
and a small Osa missile boat
After the friendly attack, all naval surface operations came to a halt under the orders of chief of naval staff.
The Navy 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 sank either due to internal explosion or detonation of mines which it was laying at the time.
The Indian Navy claims to have sank the submarine.
The submarine’s destruction enabled the Indian Navy to enforce a blockade on then East Pakistan.
According to the 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 Indian Navy as it was already outclassed by the Indian Navy after the 1965 war.
The damage inflicted by the Indian Navy
and Indian Air Force
on the PN 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 merchant navy ships; Anwar Baksh, Pasni and Madhumathi;
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 Alizé
naval aircraft was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force
. According to one Pakistan scholar, Tariq Ali
, the Pakistan Navy lost a third of its force in the war.
Despite the limited resources and manpower, the Navy performed its task diligently by providing support to inter-services (air force and army) until the end.
The primary reason for this loss has been attributed to the central command’s failure in defining a role for the Navy, or the military in general, in East Pakistan. Since then the Navy has sought to improve the structure and fleet by putting special emphasis on sub-surface warfare capability as it allows for the most efficient way to deny the control of Pakistani sea lanes to an adversary.