Saudi, Pakistani navies begin joint drill in Arabian Sea

The Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) and the Pakistani Naval Forces (PNF) began on Tuesday a major joint exercise titled “Naseem Al-Bahr 13” in Arabian Sea, off the Pakistani coast.

The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) is also participating for the first time in the 10-day joint drill.

The major features of the exercise include training on how to respond to a naval attack from booby-trapped boats, using radars and follow-up to monitor water submarines, and how to use live anti-ship “air-surface” ammunition. Besides naval ships of both navies, aviation units including RSNF and PNF helicopters embarked onboard ships and aircraft of RSAF are participating in the exercise.

On first day of the exercise, various harbor evolutions were conducted to provide synergy in different naval operations. It also afforded an opportunity for both navies to conduct operational planning for the joint naval operations to be conducted in subsequent sea phase of the exercise.

During the first phase, various training exercises were organized onboard RSNF and PNF ships and in harbor facilities. The respective force commanders of RSNF and PNF closely monitored and supervised the training activities.

The joint exercise commander, Rear Adm. Sajer Al-Anezi, said that the Naseem Al-Bahr 13 maneuvers include all dimensions of naval operations, such as air, surface and subsurface wars, along with electronic warfare and mine warfare. “Several assumptions and formations for naval units will be implemented, as well as training on ships while sailing,” he said.

Al-Anezi said the Saudi Royal Navy and Air Forces have the ability to compete with other powers of the world, and they can reach any area of operations whenever it is asked.

“The two Saudi forces are in Pakistan today to work in a different threat environment, far from their areas of operations. All branches of the Saudi forces are able to reach and confront the threat areas, while sustaining operations when ordered to do so, in light of the work on developing advanced and modern systems,” he added.

The exercise was aimed to consolidate the existing strong bilateral relations between Pakistan Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Forces, according to Pakistan Navy sources. The drill included joint conduct of maritime security operations across the traditional and non-traditional warfare domains thus enhancing interoperability between both the navies, the sources said in a statement.

Earlier, the RSNF flotilla arrived at Karachi port and was warmly welcomed by senior naval officers.

Commander of Royal Saudi Naval Forces Vice Admiral Fahad Al-Ghofaily called on Chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu on Tuesday.

During their meeting, Ghofaily commended the professionalism of PAF and acknowledged its rising indigenous capacity in aviation industry.

On his part, Sidhu said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy longstanding religious, cultural and historical bonds which are manifested through strong ties between both air forces.

The air force chief reiterated his resolve to further enhance the existing bilateral cooperation between the two countries.