Written By: PN Public Relations Directorate
Pakistan Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) share a long history of naval collaboration where both navies maintain cordial and fraternal ties. In formative years of RSNF, training facilities and technical assistance rendered by Pakistan Navy laid solid foundations for establishment of a formidable Royal Saudi Naval Force. Officers of both navies avail “on job training” on each other’s ships which is a manifestation of close relations for mutual benefits. Exchange of high level visits and conduct of bilateral exercises such as AMAN and Naseem Al Bahr are hallmark of close naval collaborations between both navies.
In order to consolidate the existing strong bilateral relations between Pakistan and Royal Saudi Naval forces, major joint Naval Exercises Naseem Al Bahr XI, First Joint Mine Counter Measures Exercise (MCMEX) and Marine Forces Exercise “Deraa Al Sahil” between Pakistan Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) were conducted at Saudi Arabian Port Al Jubail from February 9-17, 2018. It is the first time that these exercises were held in Saudi Arabian waters. Whereas, Exercise “Affa Al Sahil-IV” was conducted at Karachi between PN SSG(N)s and RSNF SOFs.
The Joint Naval Exercises were aimed at enhancing interoperability and sharpening the tactical proficiency in counter piracy, anti air & surface warfare and mine countermeasure warfare. The exercises included joint conduct of maritime security operations across the traditional and non-traditional warfare domains thus enhancing interoperability between navies.
Pakistan Navy flotilla comprising PN ships ZULFIQUAR, TARIQ, AZMAT, QUWWAT, MUNSIF, PN helicopters embarked onboard PN ships and P-3C Orion Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft also participated in these exercises. The first joint Mine Counter Measures Exercise (MCMEX) was also scheduled concurrently with Exercise Naseem Al Bahr. Commander Adnan Ahmed was the Mission Commander of Pakistan Navy ships for the exercise.
Upon arrival at Port Al Jubail, Pakistan Navy ships were warmly received by senior RSNF officers and ranks. A brief about the joint naval exercises was conducted wherein details of different evolutions and exercises were discussed by both sides. The Joint Naval Exercise Naseem Al Bahr XI comprised two phases: Harbour Phase and Sea Phase.
During the Harbour Phase, various training exercises were organised onboard PN and RSNF ships and harbour facilities. Planning modules on conduct of amphibious landing operations, escorting operations, sniper/camouflage techniques and mine countermeasures/procedures were rehearsed by both navies. Mission Commander of Pakistan Navy and Exercise Director from RSNF closely monitored and supervised the training activities.
The Sea Phase of the exercise comprised practical demonstrations of Fast Boat Attacks, various formations, maneuvering drills, defence against asymmetric attacks using fast boats, helicopter landings, boarding operations, anti-piracy and joint response to conventional threats at sea. Live weapon firing was also conducted, in which PN and RSNF ships successfully engaged their respective targets. Pakistan Navy P3C and helicopters conducted joint operations with Saudi Air Force & RSNF Air Arm elements. During the sea phase of Mine Counter Measure (MCM), Exercise survey and diving operations and under water demolition of targets were also conducted.
This year, Exercise Deraa Al Sahil was also a part of Naseem Al Bahr XI in which Pakistan Marines and RSNF Marines exercised amphibious landing operations, escorting operations, beach landing, sniper camouflage training and boarding operations. In addition, small arms firing, cover and manoeuvre drills and para drop operations by RSNF Marines were also undertaken.
In tandem, Pakistan Navy’s Special Service Group [SSG(N)] and Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) Special Operation Forces also conducted a two-weeks bilateral exercise Affa Al Sahil-IV at Karachi, Pakistan, with the objective to improve interoperability, enhancement of professional skills, rehearse tactics/techniques and exchange of professional experience on maritime counter-terrorism operations.
The exercise Affa Al Sahil-IV was conducted in two phases. The first phase comprised land/field activities including small arms firing, sniper firing, close quarter combat, simulated raid on enemy target, night special ops combat tactics. Whereas, in the second phase, Special Maritime Operations at High Seas to thwart maritime terrorism, piracy and human trafficking were undertaken. The engagement culminated with Final Test Exercise (FTX) which was attended by RSNF Special Operation Forces Commander Commodore Hamdan Saleh A. Alshehri.
PN-RSNF Joint Naval Exercises Naseem Al Bahr XI, first joint Mine Counter Measures Exercise (MCMEX) and Marine Forces Exercise Deraa Al Sahil were followed by a closing ceremony held at King Abdul Aziz Naval Base Al Jubail. Chief of Staff (Personnel), Vice Admiral Abdul Aleem of Pakistan Navy was the chief guest on this occasion.
While addressing the debrief and closing ceremony, the chief guest stated that ‘the first ever conduct of Naseem Al Bahr XI including Mine Counter Measure (MCM) and Deraa Al Sahil exercises in Saudi Arabian waters at mega scale is a manifestation of high level of mutual faith, trust and confidence. Regular conduct of the exercise Naseem Al Bahr between PN and RSNF since 1993 is a testament to the ever increasing cooperation between two brotherly countries in general and navies of both countries in particular’.
Debrief regarding conduct of various phases of the exercises was conducted by Pakistan Navy Flag Officer Sea Training representative and RSNF Fleet Training Group. It was also attended by Rear Admiral Laafi Bin Hussain Al Harbi, Commander RSNF Eastern Fleet and a large number of officers from both PN and RSNF.
Conduct of Joint Maritime Exercises between Pakistan Navy and RSNF in present geo-political milieu assumes great significance and will go a long way in enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries. Since the inception of biennial exercise Naseem Al Bahr in 1993, it has matured as an advanced level maritime exercise involving almost all facets of naval forces. The level of participation from both sides signifies the trust and mutual confidence which prevails between the two brotherly countries.