China's naval supply ship Luomahu is seen at the Karachi port, Pakistan, on Friday night. PLA Navy is participating the five-day Pakistan-led multinational naval exercise Aman 19 in Karachi. Photo: Wang Bozun/GT
The sixth Pakistan-led multinational maritime naval drills, Aman 19, kicked off on Friday at the Pakistan Navy Dockyard in Karachi with a colorful flag hoisting ceremony, with navies and observers from 46 countries including China, Russia and the US participating in the five-day exercise.
China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy), which has participated in all previous Aman exercises, arrived at the Karachi Navy Dockyard on Thursday.
A commander of the PLA Navy who requested anonymity said the PLA Navy sent two warships from the 998 Fleet to participate in the exercise, which consists of a Kunlunshan amphibious transport dock and the supply ship Luomahu.
The two Chinese warships and more than 500 Chinese naval soldiers will engage in joint exercises, which include anti-piracy exercises and maritime interception.
The exercises "provide not only medium security challenges but also enhance interoperability among navies at different levels of technological power to come together and secure a safe and sustainable maritime environment," Chief of the Pakistani Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi said during the opening ceremony.
"I look forward to successful and rewarding exercises and thank all the participants who have traveled great distances to be our worthy guests and invaluable partners in pursuit of peace," the naval chief said.
The concept of the exercises is to develop responses, tactics, techniques and procedures (RTTPs) against non-traditional threats through tactical warfare planning, according to the Pakistan Navy.
Pakistan Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi welcomed the navies of participating nations for a common resolve of "Together for Peace."
"While we talk of operating together, let us be mindful of the threats and challenges that we face at sea. These range from piracy to terrorism to climate change," the admiral said.
Ahead of the opening ceremony, armed guards were visible on the streets to secure the area.
Starting 2007, Exercise Aman has regularly been conducted every two years (the Aman 15 was not held in 2015 due to some operational commitments of the Pakistan Navy). This year's edition is scheduled from February 8 to 12, where over 45 countries are participating with ships and observers.
The exercises have two major phases: harbor and sea phases. Harbor activities include seminars, discussions and demonstrations. A three-day international maritime conference will also be held on the topic, "Global geopolitics in transition and rethinking maritime dynamics in the Indian Ocean region."
Maritime activities include high-end warfare serials at sea, such as naval gunfire, anti-piracy, operations, combined anti-submarine exercises, communications, boarding and air defense.
The Pakistan Navy has 60 warships, including four F-22P frigates from China, according to Rashid Nazir Choudhary, a Pakistan Navy commander. Four more advanced warships are under construction and will be delivered by 2021, he said.