Pakistan can offer ‘30% less’ price on warships to Qatar
April 01 2014 12:11 AM
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Rear Admiral Syed Hasan Nasir Shah at Dimdex 2014.
Rear Admiral Syed Hasan Nasir Shah at Dimdex 2014.

Pakistan can deliver ships of any size “minus the aircraft carrier” to Gulf countries, especially Qatar, at 30% less construction cost than what Western manufacturers offer, a senior Pakistani official has said.

In an interview, Rear Admiral Syed Hasan Nasir Shah, who is a serving Pakistan Navy officer and managing director of Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW), said his organisation’s various international certifications prove that the country’s ship- and submarine-building capacity is on a par with the best in the world.

Pakistan has only one shipyard, the KSEW, which comes under its Ministry of Defence Production. Even though its naval forces boast of an impressive array of indigenously built fleet of warships and submarines, the country today is known more for its ship-breaking industry at Gadani than its modern facilities at the KSEW.

When asked how the KSEW plans to create a space for itself in the extremely competitive environment, Shah said his shipyard offers many advantages to potential customers in the Gulf, least of which is geographical proximity.

“The best advantage of our shipyard is in the quality of our manpower and affordability in terms of man hours,” he said.

He explained that these days, around 40% of the total cost of building a ship in Europe goes into the material for electronics, weapons and auxiliary systems. The remaining 60% goes into manpower and construction.

“Our edge is that we can cut the cost of that 60% into half. So, if you want to buy a ship of European standard, you will not only get the best of the world from our Karachi shipyard, but also be able to save 30% on the cost of construction. That is the promise I am making to our friends in the Gulf region, especially in our interactions with senior Qatari officials,” he said.

About the types of ships that can be built, the senior official said: “We can build any ship in the world minus the aircraft carrier. We can build a deep-sea submarine or frigate-sized warship. We are not into making Very Large Crude Carriers or the Ultra Large Crude Carriers, but we can do that, too, if we wanted because they are the easiest ships to make… they are like building shoe boxes.”

Since it was established in 1956, the shipyard has built more than 440 ships and repaired over 500 others.

At the moment, the KSEW is not so much in the international competition. Though it has orders to build ships within the country, it is still lacking in bagging orders from abroad. 

“KSEW in the last eight years has delivered state-of-the-art frigate, missile crafts and harbour utility vessels. Currently, we are building a massive 17,000-tonne fleet tanker, which even most top shipbuilders are not making today,” he said.

The official hinted that ship deals also had to do more with government-to-government relations and economy of the country. Nonetheless, he added that the shipyard had recently given detailed proposals to clients in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, though a deal was yet to conclude there.

In the past, though, the KSEW has built ships for Gulf countries. “We have in the past delivered ships to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In fact, the first Baynunah-class ship was made in (the) Karachi shipyard in the early ‘70s for the UAE. When Sheikh Zayed bin Nahyan came to Karachi to take possession of the ship, it was a historic day for us.”

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