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Friday, May 17, 2024

Pak Navy keeps its submarine a SECRET! But why?!

Not to our knowledge, PNS Iqbal houses Pakistan's coveted midget submarine. Only several from the world of underwater warfare are aware of this secret vessel and hardly anyone knows its name.

Pakistan Navy has one of the best defense systems worldwide. Not many are aware of their complete set of paraphernalia used for defense and surveillance. One of such secret service vehicles sits on the quayside at PNS Iqbal, a special naval base in Karachi, Pakistan. This is a submarine that one will not find in any reference books.

According to Forbes, the submarine is a small special forces type, measuring around 55 feet long by 7 to 8 feet across. That is a fraction of the size of a regular submarine. Its location and size both point to use by the Pakistani Navy’s Special Service Group, known as SSG (N). They are equivalent to the U.S. Navy SEALs and use the ‘SEAL’ terminology. The SEALS have a long tradition of training with the American unit.

Pakistani Navy jargon refers to this category of submarines as, X-Craft. They picked up the term from the Italian manufacturer, Cos.Mo.S (commonly written Cosmos); Cos.Mo.S sold Pakistan two sets of midget submarines in the past. The Italian firm itself borrowed the term from the Royal Navy midget submarines of World War II. The American equivalent to the X-Craft is the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) now entering service with the U.S. Navy SEALs.

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Many expect this to replace the Pakistani Navy’s existing X-Craft. Currently, Pakistan operates three MG-110 X-Crafts, which the local manufacturers built between 1993 and 1996. However, substantial worn out has now highlighted the vessels for replacement.

Unfortunately, the Italian firm which originally designed them – Cos.Mo.S – closed down some 20 years back. Today its designs are continued by respected Italian manufacturer Drass. Drass offers a series of modern X-Craft that may be ideal for Pakistan.

The mystery behind Pakistan Navy SEAL’s X-Craft

Unsurprisingly, this secret submarine does not appear to be a Drass design. The smallest publicly revealed Drass design is the DG-85, which is slightly larger than the boat seen in Pakistan. One clue is that the boat first appeared in 2016. This may tie to a statement in the Pakistani Defense Production Division (MoDP) 2015-16 yearbook. It listed the “Indigenous design and construction of 01 Midget Submarine” as a target for 2016-2017.

Since then, there have been reports that Turkish firm STM (Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ş.) was jointly developing a mini-submarine with Pakistan. This could mean that the mystery craft was unsuccessful, making the Pakistani force develop a new design. Contrastingly, it could also mean that Turkish collaboration will focus on smaller ‘chariots.’ These are similar to the U.S. Navy’s SDVs (SEAL delivery vehicles). The Pakistani Navy often uses larger X-Craft to carry the Chariots.

The success of the Pakistan Navy SEALs spread their name worldwide. The unit has so far imparted training to friendly countries

Analysis of commercial satellite imagery shows that the vessel rarely goes underwater. The only clear image showing it in the water is from 2016, making its operational status unclear. The images often show the covering tent moved, which suggests timely maintenance. Therefore, we cannot write the submarine off our memories; but its name and purpose still remain a mystery.

History of Pakistan Navy SEALs

SSG(N) is the Pakistan Navy’s special operations force responsible for conducting small-unit based military operations. These operations cover broad environmental formats of the sea, air, and land by adapting to the tactics of unconventional warfare.

During the post-1965 war analysis Pakistan Navy felt the need of establishing a Special force. They needed one to covert offensive operations against enemy shore-based facilities and the units at sea or in harbours. Consequently, training volunteers for frogman /special Ops formed a new offensive arm for Pakistan Navy in 1966, called the Special Service Group, SSG(N).

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Shortly after polishing the skills of this elite group, the force was multiplied through the acquisition of midgets, chariots and combat/ auxiliary diving equipment. The training of volunteers selected from all branches of the Navy for Special Service Group (Navy) was conducted on the lines of British Special Boat Squadron (SBS), British Special Air Services (SAS) and US Navy SEALS. Since 1968, all SSG (N) training is being conducted at PNS IQBAL.

The success of the Pakistan Navy SEALs spread their name worldwide. The unit has so far imparted training to friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Iran and Sri Lanka. In addition, it is a regular feature to conduct joint exercises with allied countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Bahrain.