ISLAMABAD - As work on western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is gaining pace, the government has stepped up security measures in and around the Gwadar port and the port city. Sources in the Ministry of Ports and Shipping told The Nation on Tuesday that Pakistan Navy (PN) has taken over the security of sea links and the deep sea Gwadar port .

The sources said a special Marine Battalion has been assigned for surveillance to secure the sea links and ships in the deep sea port.

The special service groups and Pak-Marines have been trained to conduct special operations on land, sea and air.

Similarly, the government has stepped up security measures in the port city in order to protect the investors. According to the plans, digital cameras equipped with FID, Automatic Number Plate Reader and Laser Cameras are being installed in the port city.

The deep sea Gwadar port was built by China and the government of Pakistan has handed over the port operations to a state-run Chinese company. Since China and Pakistan are investing billions of dollars to connect the port with China, security measures are being enhanced to cope with the future challenges.

Given its proximity with vital international sea routes, Gwadar is likely to become a major port of the country.

Located on the mouth of key international sea routes leading through the Persian Gulf from where 17,500 oil tankers and 7,300 cargo ships pass every year and with peculiar geostrategic environment in the northern tip of Arabia Sea the Pakistan Navy is under process of rapid restructuring and overall.

The sources said that Pakistan Navy will make up in the next four to five years once the port becomes fully operational.

Once the trade under CPEC magnifies and Central Asian countries also join in the port, it would require more equipment and platforms.

For this, the Pakistan Navy is in the process of shifting some of its operations and naval assets from Karachi to the newly-built Naval Base in the strategic town of Ormara located mid-way between Karachi and Gwadar.

To cope with new major challenges the Navy is working on plans to acquire and maintain minimum deterrence vis-à-vis Indian Navy.

In terms of strategic force balance, Pakistan Navy has plans on maintaining a 1:5 vis-a-vis Indian Navy which plans to acquire 50 warships, three aircraft carriers and 22 submarines, of which five will be nuclear submarines, in the next 10 to 15 years.

Besides that India also envisions converting its naval force into blue water navy – a marine force capable of operating across the deep waters of open oceans – with intercontinental outreach.

At the moment Pakistan Navy’s main attacking fleet includes four former British Navy Amazon-class ships, known as Type-21 which will be replaced with new tonnage by 2020. Four Chinese light frigates, F-22P, are also part of the attacking fleet.

Moreover, the navy owns an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate. To replace the Type-21s, they plan on adding another five to six of these surface warriors until new ones are built. Apart from these, the surface fleet consists of destroyers, high-speed missile crafts, gun boats, mine hunters, and training ships and boats.

For underwater surveillance, the navy has deployed the Submarines Service Force. Their primary mission includes commencing peaceful engagement, surveillance and intelligence management, special operations, precision strikes, battle group operations and control of Pakistan’s sea borders.

Currently, the navy has a fleet of five submarines, three 90B Agosta and two 70B Agosta. In the near future,it is planning to add another eight.

Lastly, the third component of Pakistan Navy’s operations is its aviation fleet, compromising six squads. These carrier air wings include P3C Orion, ATR and Fokker aircraft while helicopter units have Z9EC, Sea King and Alouette.