KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday launched Pakistan Navy Fleet Tanker at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works on Friday.

Speaking as chief guest at the launching ceremony of the 17,000-ton fleet tanker built with the cooperation of Turkey, the prime minister expressed pleasure over the launch of the largest warship prepared in the country by Karachi Shipyard.

Nawaz said he had the vision of a strong, democratic and economically viable Pakistan, adding the country would not compromise on its strategic interests.

He said Pakistan had immense power potential and resources for economic development and this must be harnessed effectively for its development, adding the government was committed to consolidating maritime infrastructure along the coast from Karachi to Gwadar.

He hoped this cooperation would continue in future and more ships would be built in Karachi Shipyard in collaboration with Turkish firms.

He congratulated the Ministry of Defence Production, Pakistan Navy, STM Turkey and Karachi Shipyard for launching the ship ahead of schedule. He avered Pakistan Navy Fleet Tanker would always be remembered as an icon of Pakistan-Turkey friendship.

He asserted Pakistan and Turkey were time-tested friends, but despite being geographically aside, they were united by faith, common heritage, shared civilisation and commonality of interests.

He said the joint ventures like the construction of the fleet tanker would further strengthen the two countries’ relations. This initiative would open more opportunities for further cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey in the field of indigenous warship construction and other defence sector products. Nawaz Sharif said Karachi Shipyard was an exceptional story of success in public sector which should be emulated by other similar organizations.

Nawaz said he was confident that through continued hard work, better management practices and the government patronage, Karachi Shipyard would achieve many more such laurels in the future.

He said the successful construction of the fleet tanker would play a vital role in achieving self-reliance in defence production and the government would continue to support the policy of indigenisation in all technological spheres. He appreciated the workforce and management of Karachi Shipyard for transforming the shipyard into a profitable and viable organization. He announced a bonus of Rs 100 million for its employees.

The ongoing development programmes of the government, including China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), aim at achieving maximum output in terms of regional trade and transshipment with Gwadar as the focal point, he said.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, Under Secretary of Turkey, Prof Dr Ismail Demir, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, foreign diplomats and civilian as well as military officials attended the launching ceremony.

The prime minister affirmed the launch of the ship two months ahead of the schedule was a gift to the nation on its 70th Independence Day.

He said the fleet tanker being built in the collaboration with Turkish shipbuilding firm, M/s Savunma Teknologiler Muhendisilik (STM) under the ambit of the Ministry of Defence Production and Pakistan Navy was a true testament to efforts towards indigenisation and enhanced collaboration with Turkey.

Later, the prime minister cut the fastening strings and the fleet tanker was moved into the sea with the help of a tugboat at the platform of the shipyard.

The ship is capable of independently operating at the sea for up to three months. The double hull tanker is compliant with latest International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and Marine Pollution (MARPOL) regulations.

It will provide logistic support to Pakistan Navy at sea through transfer of liquid and dry cargo and is also capable of undertaking combat support operation through embarked helicopters.

The ship is also equipped with modern medical facilities to support Pakistan Navy fleet units, both during war and disaster relief operations.

Later, Nawaz Sharif witnessed Pakistan Navy’s biennial war games Shamsheer-e-Bahr-VI. Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zakaullah received him on his arrival.