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Ormara Naval Base - A strategic boost for Pakistan! and a threat to India?

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    Ormara Naval Base - A strategic boost for Pakistan! and a threat to India?

    It seems the CE's strategic vision of a stronger Pakistan is coming to fruition after the opening of the new Naval base at Ormara in Balochistan. With work having started on another nearby port in Gwadur, Pakistan is well-placed to become the dominant power on the eastern shores of the Arabian sea. And with important pipelines passing through this area from Iran etc Pakistan is set to become a leading Central/West Asian power?

    Pakistani navy gets new port

    Just about a month ago, on June 22, General Musharraf opened Pakistan Navy's new port at Ormara, on the Baluchistan coast, some 250 kms west of Karachi. This addition to the infrastructure of Pakistan will have considerable effect on the strategy and tactics of both the Indian and the Pakistan navies in a future war.

    Sea control and sea denial have been the cornerstones of the Indian Navy's strategy during war for many years. Sea control over the Arabian Sea, at least the eastern part of it, and denial of it to the adversary. Sea control is a classic strategy followed by strong navies and maritime states the world over. It means not only freedom for your own naval ships to proceed about their business during war but also for your own and friendly merchant marine to ply their trade without fear of interference.

    In modern day warfare, it is well nigh impossible for even the strongest nation to exercise sea control over the whole ocean. Neither is it required. It is sufficient to be able to control and secure the immediate area of operations and your trade routes from the enemy.

    Sea control will also involve to a certain degree denial of the same sea to the enemy. Sea denial also extends to the enemy's merchant trade. The surest way of bringing a country, especially one which is overwhelmingly dependent on sea borne trade, to its knees is to prevent its merchant ships from plying the seas. Hitler very nearly succeeded in crippling Britain when German U-boats managed to sink over 2 million tonnes of British shipping per month during the Second World War.

    The Indian Navy succeeded overwhelmingly in both these tasks in 1971. Thanks to the attacks carried out by missile boats on Karachi, the Pakistan navy's surface fleet remained bottled up in the harbour for the rest of the war. Neither was any merchant ship allowed to enter the harbour denying the country crucial material such as oil for fighting the war. In the east, the Vikrant and the eastern fleet successfully blockaded Chittagong and other ports preventing the escape of Pakistani army via the sea.

    Secure bases is one of the important ingredients of the Principles of War. Pakistan came off second best in this category after Partition. Whereas India came away with some 11 major ports evenly distributed on both her coasts, Pakistan received only two ports, one of them in East Pakistan. When Chittagong was lost in 1971, the country was left with Karachi as her only major access to the sea.

    Karachi is quite unsuitable as a naval port. To start with, its shallow approaches require a long entrance channel which has to be dredged frequently and which is easily susceptible to mining. Even more undesirable from a naval point of view, the Pakistan navy has to share it with the commercial navy. This disadvantage is common to the Indian Navy as well.

    In Mumbai, Cochin and Vishakhapatnam, the Indian Navy lives cheek by jowl with her merchant navy cousins. Thus the need for a new naval base at Karwar. Most important of all, Karachi is far too close to the Indian border. A missile ship leaving Porbandar or Okha for example, can be within missile firing range of Karachi within four hours, far too short a time for any effective defence.

    The need for establishing a secure naval base for their navy was apparent to Pakistan's planners soon after the 1971 war and efforts began to develop a number of minor ports, Gwadar, Pasni, Jiwani and Ormara along the Baluchistan coast. Initially, the Shah of Iran agreed to fund the development. Those were the days of CENTO of which both Iran and Pakistan were members.

    The Shah wanted to develop Gwadar, which was much closer to Iran and could be used by the Iranian navy to control the entrance to the Gulf. For a time Gwadar was being developed by American engineers. However, after the Shah was overthrown, when funds from Iran dried up, the focus shifted to Ormara which is much closer to Karachi.

    Of course, just building a base where ships can berth is only half the battle. The base must have other infrastructure such as repair facilities and transport and communication links with other parts of the country. In this respect, Pakistan has a long way to go. There is no rail link between Ormara and Karachi. During the opening ceremony, the good general mentioned that a coastal road was being built expeditiously. No doubt an all weather road will soon connect not only Ormara but Jiwani and Gwadar with Karachi.

    Possibly an oil pipeline may also be in the offing to allow oil tankers to discharge their cargo, thus sidestepping the need for them to come to Karachi. Above all, a base must be secure. During both World Wars, the British home fleet was harboured at Scapa Flow in remote Scotland from where it could control the approaches to German bases in the North Sea.

    Scapa was famous as an impregnable naval base until the German U-Boat ace, Gunther Prien, proved otherwise. On a dark night in October 1939, he managed to penetrate Scapa Flow in a U-47 entering the harbour's narrow approaches close behind a merchant ship. Once inside, Prien torpedoed and sank the battleship Royal Oak at her moorings. Not only that, Prien managed to escape out to sea in the resulting confusion. The British were compelled to abandon the base until its defences were strengthened.

    Similarly, the British were able to sink the battleship Tirpitz at her moorings in the deep fjords of Norway by mounting air and midget submarine attacks. No amount of defences can prevent a determined enemy from attacking what may be considered a secure base.

    How will the commissioning of Ormara affect the Indian Navy's strategy of sea denial in any future war? It is obvious that things will not be as easy as they were in 1971. At the same time, the Indian Navy is far stronger today than it was 30 years ago. It is also unlikely that it will have to fight on both sides of the subcontinent. Thus the Indian Navy can bring to bear a much bigger force to achieve its strategy in the future.

    Pakistan, on the other hand, will benefit immensely with the development of Ormara and other bases on the Baluchistan coast. The fear of being bottled up or being denied the facilities of Karachi will reduce considerably. As time goes by, it is certain that fueling, replenishing and repair facilities will spring up, not only in Ormara but also in Gwadar, Jiwani and Pasni.

    Some maritime air elements may also be based at some of these ports making the Indian Navy's task all the more formidable. Pakistani submarines can also operate with much more freedom from bases along this coast without fear of being hemmed in at Karachi. Development of ports along the Baluch coast also offers alternatives to merchant ships if the Indian Navy succeeds in bottling up Karachi. After the coastal road is built and an oil pipeline is in place, it will no longer be all that easy to cut off Pakistan's maritime trade.

    It has taken 50 years for Pakistan to think of and build an alternative to Karachi. Now that its dream has been realised, it is certain to give its navy greater confidence in future action.

    Admiral J G Nadkarni (retd)

    [This message has been edited by Malik73 (edited July 28, 2000).]

    Full-scale work on Gwadar seaport to begin in September

    KARACHI (August 1) : Formal full-scale work on Gwadar seaport in Balochistan will begin from September, a government official said here on Monday.
    Chinese firms will build the new mega seaport, about 234 nautical miles west of Karachi and 390 nautical miles east of the Gulf of Hormuz. It will be the third in the country. The port, officials said Monday, will serve as a hub of commercial activity in the region.
    It will facilitate trade traffic to and from South Asian ports of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and Gulf ports in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Iraq and United Arab Emirates," the official said.
    He added that the port has multiple facilities to offer neighbouring states, especially oil storage facilities.
    Work was halted on the seaport in 1996 after the sacking of the Benazir Bhutto government.
    Sources say the irritants in the way of the execution of mega project are multiple, having deep roots within and across the national border.
    They say the project is as important to Pakistan as the Suez Canal is to Egypt and because of this, world powers having their stakes in the region have been conspiring to impede construction of the port.
    India has recently voiced concern that Pakistan in collaboration with China is developing Gwadar port not as a commercial venue but as a strategic one.
    This impression among the comity of nations, particularly those having special interests in the Middle East and the Central Asian Republics,
    may create some invisible resistance against the construction of the port, sources say.
    The Planning Commission in 1974 identified the Gwadar deepwater as an ideal site for the development of a third port in the country.
    The government in 1983 decided to construct a fishing-cum-mini commercial port instead of a full-fledged port with Belgian loan. However the original idea of having a seaport stayed relevant due to a
    need for one.

    What are Pak’s plans about Jiwani and Pasni Ports, or do we really need four ports so close to each other?

    How is Gwadar linked with rest of Pak, especially Karachi?

    [This message has been edited by sabah (edited August 01, 2000).]


      China, Iran, Oman ready to finance Gwadar deep seaport construction
      RECORDER REPORT.QUETTA (September 5) : China, Iran and Oman have renewed offer of assistance both in terms of expertise and necessary funds for the development of Makran coastal belt, building coastal highway and construction of a deep seaport at Gwadar, an authentic source said here on Monday.
      The terms and conditions of these countries for investment are under active consideration of the government.
      Pakistan has, however, told them that public and private sectors investment in these projects would be most welcome after due consideration.
      All these three countries, have been briefed on the blueprints prepared for southern Balochistan development by Pakistan for foreign investors.
      Six-point blueprints for Makran development, believed to have been delivered to China, Iran and Oman separately, deal with wide ranging projects.
      These projects, involving foreign expertise and funds, pertain to construction of coastal towns along Makran coast and their connection to hinterland through highway and road network.
      Others relate to provide power for industrial and commercial development, conserve water resources for power generation, agriculture and drinking water purposes, provide adequate fish landing, handling, storage and marketing facilities for fishermen, initiate industrial activity, identify industries suited to fish-related and export-oriented schemes, improve and initiate social action programme as well as develop tourism along Balochistan coast.
      Another portfolio of projects delivered to China, Iran and Oman, pertains to the construction of 653 km long coastal highway from Karachi to Jiwani close to Iran, through Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and Jiwani including link roads to important towns touching coastal highway.
      The countries have also been told that the government has already initiated work on the first section of this vitally important 653 km long coastal highway from Lyari to Ormara.
      It would have two more important sections -- Ormara-Pasni and Pasni-Gwadar-Jiwani near Pak-Iran border. Detailed engineering design for all the three sections of the coastal highway have already been prepared with the total investment estimated at over Rs 11 billion.
      Similarly, Gwadar deep sea port portfolio has been updated by the government to provide warehousing, transshipment and industrial facilities for international import-export trade by Pakistan with Central Asian states, Afghanistan, Gulf States, East Africa, Red Sea countries and North West India. Deep-sea port Gwadar involves investment of Rs 30 billion.
      Copyright 2000 Business Recorder (



        Yeah, it will surely fill in deep pockets of CEO. He will need the money when it is time to vacation in the U.S/England few years from now.