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Pak Navy enhances its bathymetric capability

Bathymetry is the study of underwater depth of lake or ocean floors, which is the underwater equivalent to hypsometry or topography. The name is derived from Greek bathus, meaning “deep”, and metron or “measure”. Bathymetric (or hydrographic) charts are typically produced to support safety of surface or sub-surface navigation, and usually show seafloor relief or terrain as contour lines (called depth contours or isobaths) and selected depths (soundings), and typically also provide surface navigational information.
Pakistan Navy (PN), which has been entrusted with the sacred task of safeguarding the maritime frontiers of the country and ensuring safety of sea trade routes has taken another important step in this direction. On November 4, 2019, Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi formally commissioned the state-of-the-art Survey Vessel (SV) BEHR MASAH built for Pakistan Navy at China.
Muslims have had historical maritime traditions and numerous names come to mind who achieved greatness. Muhammad bin Qasim, who in 710, at the age of 17, led the first Muslim conquest of the Indian peninsula, conquered Sindh till Multan, defeating Raja Dahir. Tariq ibn Ziyad, who led the Muslim conquest of Spain in 711. The Strait of Gibraltar (Rock of Tariq) named after him, still bears witness to his valour and prowess. Admiral Zheng He, the 14th Century Chinese mariner, who commanded expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. According to legend, his larger ships carried hundreds of sailors on four decks and were almost twice as long as any wooden ship ever recorded. Admiral Khayr ad-Din Barbarossa, whose naval victories secured Ottoman dominance over the Mediterranean during the mid-16th Century.
It’s a pity that after independence, dictator Field Marshal Ayub Khan ignored the development of PN. This is in direct contrast to what the famed Indian strategist K.M. Panikkar, in his book India and the Indian Ocean-An Essay on the Influence of Sea Power on Indian History, had predicted that Pakistan will have two navies, one for the defence of West and the other for safeguarding East Pakistan. This pearl of wisdom coming from the adversary was disregarded at our peril because in 1971 India blockaded the maritime link between the two wings. Our small abut valiant Navy fought bravely but the end was never in doubt.
It is encouraging that later governments have been giving due weightage to the development of PN, taking cognizance of the strategic importance of the oceans and the maritime domain for progress and prosperity of the nations. Pakistan’s geostrategic location places it at the cross-road of world energy routes and offers it a unique opportunity to achieve economic affluence by initiating economic activities in the maritime domain.
Besides keeping the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) safe and open for trade, commerce and transportation of its exports and imports, Pakistan has huge maritime potentials and there is a dire need to explore and tap these resources. This responsibility has multiplied manifold by the expansion of Pakistan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) till 350 Nautical Miles from Pakistan’s Coast i.e. Extended Continental Shelf. Additionally, with the advent of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), development of strategic deep-sea port of Gwadar and the onset of maritime terrorism, PN has been taking its responsibilities safeguarding the maritime frontiers diligently.
Many of us are oblivious of the fact that marine habitat does not comprise only fish or plants but by volume oceans provide about 90 percent of the living space on earth. Sub surface plant forms such as kelp and algae grow in the water and are the basis for underwater ecosystems. Polymetallic nodules, also called manganese nodules, are rock concretions on the sea bottom formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core. These nodules can be found in vast quantities, and contain valuable metals, deposits have been identified as having economic interest. Optimum exploration of undersea hydrocarbon, gas and oil reserves in marine regions under our control remains to be concluded.
Pakistan’s limited capability to undertake hydrographic research and surveys in Pakistani Waters was somewhat addressed with the acquisition of Survey Vessel (SV) BEHR PAlMA from Japan in 1982. Pakistan Navy Hydrographic Department (PNHD) has undertaken hydrographic surveys covering entire coast of Pakistan but with the SV BEHR PAlMA’s obsolescence, there was dire need to acquire a modern state-of-the-art survey vessel in order to extend reach of PNHD from coastal waters to extended depth of Murray Ridge in the heart of North Arabian Sea.
This pressing requirement was met with on 29 May 2017 when the contract of new PN Survey Vessel was signed between Director General Munitions Productions (DGMP) &Mis Jiangsu Daijin Heavy Industry Company Ltd, China. It was envisioned that the vessel being all weather would be able to afford effective Hydrographic/ Geophysical/ Oceanographic surveys with installation of modern equipment.
The result is the 3000 Ton PN SV BEHR MASAH, which is fully geared to undertake hydrographic, oceanographic and geographical surveys as well as seafloor mapping from shallow to ocean depths with its bathymetric capability bringing it par with developed maritime nations of the world.



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