BANGLADESH NAVY WILL SPEND TK 14,000 KOTI FOR A THREE-DIMENSIONAL FORCE
The Bangladesh Navy would spend Tk 14,000 crore for a three-dimensional force to ensure security of its 1,18,813 square kilometre of sea territory. The Navy chief submitted the plan to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently, and sought funds within eight years, sources in the naval headquarters said. If the government allocates the funds, the Navy will purchase submarines, war ships and helicopters, and set up naval bases. It would help boost the ‘blue economy’ of the country.
Not only the Navy, but also some ministries, especially the ministries of fisheries and livestock, environment, shipping, energy, defence, agriculture and foreign affairs, have prepared individual plans for exploiting marine resources to develop the country’s “blue economy” over the 1,18,813 sq km of sea territory.
The Navy, in its master plan, advised the government to prepare a maritime policy and form a maritime commission for conducting, monitoring and maintaining the use of marine resources, sea and port infrastructures. Of the 1,18,813 sq km of its sea territory, Bangladesh got 70,000 sq km from Myanmar and 19,000 sq km from India that comprises the territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone extending out to 200 nautical miles (NM).
According to the Navy’s master plan, it will need to build a well decorated naval force to ensure security in the sea and coastal areas and uphold the country’s sovereignty. The plan envisages purchase of naval war ships, vessels, helicopters and equipment within six to eight years. It will need Tk. 1,000 crore to purchase two old frigates, Tk. 4,000 crore for two new frigates, Tk. 800 crore for two large patrol crafts (LPCs), Tk. 1,600 crore for corvettes, Tk. 500 crore for five patrol crafts, Tk. 200 crore for a training ship, Tk. 200 crore for a logistic ship, Tk. 100 crore for a fleet tanker, Tk. 400 crore for four mine counter measure vessels (MCMVs), Tk. 240 crore for a floating dockyard, Tk. 250 crore for two maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), Tk. 160 crore for two helicopters, Tk. 1,000 crore for an oceanographic research vessel and Tk. 400 crore for procuring a rescue and salvage ship.
According to the plan, the Navy sought Tk. 1,500 crore to build a submarine base in six years and Tk. 1,500 crore to build a naval base and other infrastructures for naval aviation.
The Navy has proposed formation of a maritime commission like that of the Armed Forces Division (AFD), a division under the Prime Minister’s Office. The government has signed an agreement with China under a state-to-state deal to purchase two Ming-class submarines by 2016 to make the Navy a part of a three-dimensional force to protect the country’s maritime resources and territorial waters. Altogether 17 naval officers have been trained to operate submarines.
The Navy has acquired land on Kutubdia Island in southwest Cox’s Bazar to set up a submarine base. Sources in the Coast Guard and Navy said the government has decided to purchase helicopters, offshore patrol vessels and other equipment for the Coast Guard to carry out surveillance on the maritime boundary and counter unconventional threats, such as human trafficking and smuggling of illegal arms, drugs and narcotics.
Senior officers of the Coast Guard and the Navy have been attending seminars and courses abroad to gather experience and learn more about tactics to protect the maritime boundary.
The Director of Navy Intelligence (DNI), Commodore M Rashed Ali, told The Independent that the authorities should implement the plan of action to strengthen the Navy so that it can ensure maritime security and boost the blue economy. “Bangladesh is likely to become a middle-income country if the blue economy is boosted and so the government should strengthen the force’s capacity,” he said.
On 18 February, following completion of Exercise Sea Thunder 2014 in the Bay of Bengal, Maj. Gen. Tarique Ahmed Siddique, security adviser to the Prime Minister, had said that the naval force has been strengthened to defend the country’s maritime boundaries.
Naval chief Vice-Admiral Farid Habib had said they firmly believed that the Navy would emerge as a force to reckon with within 10 years. The Navy has already purchased two Dornier 228NG (new generation) patrol aircraft for surveillance at sea and carried out search operations in the deep sea using aircraft to find debris of the missing Malaysian jet that disappeared with 239 people on board on March 8 this year.
Coast Guard Director General, Rear Admiral, M Makbul Hossain, told The Independent that they were capable of facing unconventional threats at sea and protect the country’s maritime resources and territorial waters. “At present, we are protecting the 710-km sea boundary with our personnel of only 2,000. We need manpower, offshore patrol vessels and modern equipment to strengthen the force’s capacity,” he said. He added the authorities have assured them of recruiting the necessary manpower, procuring helicopters, new equipment and vessels for the force. “We are preparing proposals for the purchase of two helicopters, two big vessels and other important equipment to strengthen our capacity and to smoothly conduct operations,” he explained
OCTOBER 30, 2014