The modern Fast Attack Craft (FAC) of the Pakistan Navy (PN) reached the port of Colombo yesterday, on a short visit to the island nation of Sri Lanka. The vessel is currently undertaking its first ever voyage after it’s commissioning, and is travelling to Karachi from China. Pakistani officials informed the media that the vessel will resume its journey towards the port of Karachi by May 31.

The PNS Azmat is one of the two Azmat class FACs which the PN is purchasing from China. Built by the Xingang China State Shipbuilding Company in Tianjin, the vessel was handed over to the PN on 24 April 2012. The second vessel of this class is currently being built at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS & EW), with the help of Chinese technology transfer.

The vessels will supplement the PN’s fleet of locally developed FACs, the P1023 PNS Jurrat and the P1028 PNS Quwwat. The PN is also currently operating two Jalalat II class missile boats, the PNS Jalalat, and the PNS Shujat. The second Azmat class FAC, PNS Dahshat is expected to be commissioned by next year.

During its long journey from China to Karachi, the vessel had visited ports in friendly nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia before reaching Sri Lanka. The naval officials informed media that the Colombo visit will be the last such stoppage before reaching Karachi. PN warships frequently visit the Sri Lankan ports, and vice-versa. Both nations maintain close and cordial diplomatic relations and Pakistan was one of the major arms and ammunition suppliers of Sri Lanka during the civil war period.

The 560 tonne PNS Azmat is operated by a crew of 68, including 8 officers. It is currently commanded by Cdr. Ahmed Hussain. The vessel, which can attain a maximum speed of 30 knots, uses the Chinese developed CSS-N-8 Saccade anti-ship missile as its primary armament.

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