Royal Saudi, Pakistan navies conclude Seaspark 2001
The Royal Saudi and Pakistan navies concluded a series of joint manoeuvres, dubbed Seaspark 2001 on March 6th. The two-week exercises, which began in the Arabian Sea on 23 January, included three separate phases - harbour defence, tactical manoeuvres and an analytical phase.
Seven surface ships of the Royal Saudi Navy, and all available Pakistan Navy units including the naval air arm, frigates, submarines, missile boats and auxiliary craft, participated in the Seaspark exercises, the primary focus of which was an assessment of variables in anti-submarine warfare and submarine defence.
Navy officials said that the participation of vessels from both navies provided sufficient platforms to constitute two forces (Orange and Blue) for a series of exercises designed to evaluate the operational readiness of the naval forces of both countries - and had proved to be a major step towards the improvement of the joint operational concept.
In a related development, during the exercises Pakistan Navy officials for the first time alluded to their nuclear ambitions, saying that the Pakistan Navy was capable of equipping its submarines with nuclear weapons "for defence purposes", but the decision to proceed with the provision lies with the government.
However, independent analysts believe that such a technological development will be constrained by financial considerations, particularly in the wake of a recent decision by the military government to freeze the defence budget at its present level.