Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed hope to buy a submarine for Bangladesh Navy in the future.
Her government, despite economic constraints, was committed to building an efficient, modern and balanced three-dimensional naval force for safeguarding maritime interests in the high seas and littoral regions, she said.
“Global attention is now on maritime resources as natural reserves in the land areas are being exhausted fast due to continuous exploration.
“Our naval force and coast guard, out of scene, are playing an enormous role in protecting the valuable resources beating many obstacles,” she told a function at Bangladesh Air Force Base Zahurul Haque in Chittagong.
The function marked the induction of two marine patrol aircraft, DORNIER-228 NG, procured from Germany, and commissioning of three naval ships, Bangladesh Navy Ship (BNS) Surma, built in Khulna Shipyard Limited, and BNS Nirmul and BNS Durjoy, procured from China.
Hasina said the induction was a milestone of the government’s relentless efforts and good wishes to turn Bangladesh Navy into a modern, strong and capable three-dimensional force.
Pointing out the settlement of long-run maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar, she said, “We hope that the dispute with India is expected to be settled next year.”
“Our sea areas are abounding with fisheries, mineral oil, natural gas and other invaluable resources. These resources are very much important for our national economy.
“To protect our maritime boundary the role of Bangladesh Navy is very crucial due to our geographical and strategic location,” she said.
Hasina said Bangladesh has about 720 kilometres of coastal areas where around 30 million people directly or indirectly live on the sea resources and Bangladesh acquired the rights on an economic area of up to 200 nautical miles in the Bay of Bengal.
She said 90 percent of shipments were carried on sea routes but most of the people were not aware of the importance of sea areas and its resources.
Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Coast Guard, beyond the scene, are protecting the resources, safeguarding huge areas, maintaining control on river routes and ensuring security while exploring sea resources and carrying goods, she added.
Hasina said advancement of Bangladesh Navy remained stopped for seven years. After taking office, the present government adopted many short and long-term plans for building an effective naval force, which would be executed by 2030, she said.
She said BNS Bangabandhu was Bangladesh’s pride. Commissioned in 2001 during the past Awami League government, the ship is playing a tremendous role in national development and rehabilitation work, she said.
She said BNS Bangabandhu already earned a good reputation from international community by taking part in exercises successfully and paying goodwill visits to many countries, including Qatar, the US, India and Sri Lanka.
Hasina recalled that the advancement of Bangladesh Navy was initiated by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“Bangabandhu, out of his realisation for a strong naval force, expressed his determination to build a modern navy and procured two patrol craft — Padma and Palash — for Bangladesh Navy.”
On her arrival, Hasina was received by Naval Chief Vice Admiral M Farid Habib and a Naval Aviation contingent gave her a guard of honour.
She handed over the induction order to the flying captains and unveiled their names. She then went to Chittagong Naval Berth and handed over the commissioning order to the ship captains. At that time, the ship bells rang and flags were hoisted.
Afterwards, she boarded BNS Bangabandhu and BNS Nirmul to see the weaponry.
Cabinet members, the prime minister’s advisers, acting chief of Bangladesh Army, chiefs of Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force, diplomats of different countries and senior civil and military officials were present.