China has begun the construction of two advanced naval ships for Pakistan as its defence industry resumed production after over two months following the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak which brought the country to a standstill.
The keel-laying ceremony for the second Type 054A/P missile frigate for the Pakistani Navy was held recently at the Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard in China’s Shanghai city, Pakistan’s state-run APP news agency reported on Friday.
The Type 054A multi-purpose guided-missile frigate is the mainstay of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, with 30 vessels in commission.
Pakistan signed the first contract of two Type 054A/P frigates, an export version of the Type 054A, in 2017 and purchased two more ships in June 2018, the report said.
The steel cutting ceremony for the final two ships took place last November. All four frigates will be manufactured in China and delivered to the Pakistan Navy in 2021.
A senior official of Pakistan Navy who attended the keel-laying ceremony said that despite the challenges, posed by COVID-19, the expertise of Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard and Chinese contractors ensured the timely completion of this important milestone programme, it said.
The Pakistan Navy said that the 054A/P frigates are equipped with a modern surface, underwater and anti-aircraft weapons and sensors.
Once built, these warships will become the most technologically advanced platforms of the Pakistani Navy, which will enhance its combat capability to meet future challenges and maintain peace, stability, and balance of power in the Indian Ocean, the report added.