Note: This article takes a comprehensive look at the expansion of KS&EW (Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works) and the role it played upon the Pakistan Navy Modernization drive.
In 2020 during the change of naval command ceremony, the outgoing Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmoud Abbasi briefly put the modernization plans of the Pakistan Navy through its three domains i.e surface domain, subsurface domain and aviation domain. According to the admiral, the Pakistan navy surface fleet has been expanded to 50 ships which included direct procurement from foreign suppliers and building ships locally under transfer of technology (TOT) as well as indigenous projects.
To accommodate this expansion, the Karachi shipyard and engineering works being the country’s leading shipbuilding company went through major expansion and infrastructure upgradation to accommodate the technology being transferred to the Pakistan navy for different shipbuilding projects.
New Syncrolift Dry Dock: New and bigger Syncrolift dry dock was built at KS&EW to support the production of larger and heavier ships and submarines. Reportedly Pakistan navy’s Hangor class submarines (Type-039B) will be built at this dock.
New Construction Hall: KS&EW has a new construction hall and fabrication facility which will cover all the aspects of building larger naval warships as well as overhaul and new sub-systems integration into older ships.
Role in Pakistan Navy Modernization and Upgradation:
KS&EW Pakistan’s leading shipbuilding company is directly involved in the navy modernization 2030 plan, as it’s involved in the production, overhaul and integration of sub-systems in major naval projects.
Babur Class Corvette Production: In 2018 Pakistan signed a contract with Turkiye for four Milgem class Corvettes. According to the contract two of the corvettes will be built locally in Pakistan by KS&EW.
The second ship of the class PNS BADR was recently launched by KS&EW in May 2022 while the fourth ship of the class is under construction in KS&EW. The first and third ships of the class are built by Turkiye. All four ships will become operational with the Pakistan navy till 2025.
Hangor Class Submarine Production: Pakistan navy ordered eight Type-039B submarines from China, half of which will be built by KS&EW in Karachi, Pakistan. The remaining four will be built by Wuchang shipbuilding industry in Wuhan, China.
The first steel-cutting ceremony for the fifth Hangor class was held in December 2021 and its production started in December 2022 along with steel cutting ceremony for the sixth. KS&EW will build all four submarines and deliver them to the Pakistan navy by 2030
Azmat Class Fast Attack Craft: In 2010 a joint project between KS&EW, China state Shipbuilding Corporation and Xiangang shipyard was signed to design and built a stealth fast attack craft for the Pakistan navy. A total of four ships were built, first ship of the class was built in China while the remaining three were built by KS&EW, and the last ship of the class was produced in 2022.
Mini Submarine Production: Satellite images confirmed the sighting of a new small submarine at KS&EW. Officially no information is available about its specifications but it’s been built locally by KS&EW for shallow water operations and naval Special Forces deployments.
Overhauling and Upgradation of Older Ships
KS&EW continuously repairs, overhaul and upgrade older ships as per requirements and routine.
Khalid Class Submarine Mid-Life Upgrade: In 2018 the Turkish firm STM won the bidding for the mid-life upgrade of Khalid class submarines. Two out of three ships were to be upgraded in Turkiye while one submarine was upgraded by KS&EW locally. MLU included a new radar, ESM, new periscope and optronic mast, new sonar and torpedo countermeasures system. According to satellite images, the upgradation of the submarine at KS&EW was completed by 2020 and had left the dry dock for trials.
Mid-life Upgrade of F-22P Frigates: Zulfiquar class frigates (F-22P) being the workhorse of the Pakistan navy are repaired routinely by KS&EW to keep them in top condition and to carry out operational duties. Currently, one of the ships from the class is being upgraded at KS&EW. A major upgrade in its air defense systems is expected, according to current CNS Admiral Amjad khan Niazi interview with a Turkish news agency the Pakistan navy is procuring Albatross-NG air defense system from MBDA for its F-22P. Along with a new air defense system, new electronic support measures (ESM) and a new Radio intelligence station from ASELSAN Turkiye will be integrated into F-22P.
Local Integration of Subsystems and Weapons: KS&EW is locally integrating sensors, armaments and sub-systems on different projects. It includes;
SMASH: a 30mm remote-controlled stabilized gun with integrated sensors and Fire control radar which is installed on Yarmook class Corvette by KS&EW.
STOP and STAMP: 25mm and 12.7mm RWS installed on Azmat class and jurrat class missile boats along with its sensors and Fire control radar.
KS&EW is expected to absorb certain future frigates and submarine projects under the modernization 2030 plan.
Jinnah Class Frigates: It’s a part of the Pakistan navy MILGEM project. Pakistan navy signed a joint contract with ASFAT (military factory and shipyard management) to design and built a new frigate according to the needs of Pakistan navy. Under the contract four ships of Jinnah class will be built in Pakistan by KS&EW, according to the contract ASFAT will have the intellectual property (IP) rights of the design to KS&EW.
Shallow Water Attack Submarine: Pakistan navy seems to be interested in the Turkish STM-500 SWAS for shallow water operations, Special Forces deployment and mine warfare capabilities. In IDEAS 2022 STM-500 was exhibited and will participate in the Pakistan navy SWAS program, once the deal is signed an undisclosed number of submarines will be built by KS&EW locally under the transfer of technology.