Eastern Times, Correspondent, Dhaka, 5 November: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said Bangladesh wants to strengthen its capacity to resist any external attack, not to engage in war with anyone.
“We don’t want to fight with anyone … but if Bangladesh is ever attacked by any external foes, we want to attain the capability to resist them,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while commissioning five modern ships of Bangladesh Navy – three warships and two survey ships — at the Naval Berth-1 in Chattogram.
She said the Father of the Nation had formulated Bangladesh’s foreign policy — ‘Friendship to all, Malice to none’. “We believe in that policy.”
Sheikh Hasina commissioned the five ships through a videoconference from her official residence Ganobhaban in the capital.
The three warships are – ‘BNS Umar Farooq’, ‘BNS Abu Ubaidah’ and ‘BNS Prottasha’, and two survey ships ‘BNS Darshak’ and ‘BNS Tallashi.’ Among these, two frigates — Umar Farooq and Abu Ubaidah—and one corvette –Prottasha— were collected, while two survey ships were constructed at Khulna Shipyard.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral M Shaheen Iqbal, on behalf of the Prime Minister, formally handed over the “commissioning forman [statement]” of the ships to their respective captains at the Naval Berth.
The captains of the five ships — Captain AM Shamsul Haque of Prottasha, Captain Gazi Golam Morshed of Umar Farooq, Captain Ashrafuzzaman of Abu Ubaidah, Lt Commander Kamrul Ahsan of Tallashi and Lt Commander Nazmus Sakib Sourav — received the Commissioning Forman [statement].
Both the frigates –Umar Farooq and Abu Ubaidah– are 112 metres in length and 12.4 metres in width, while corvette Prottasha is 90 metres in length and 11.14 metres in width. The highest speed of three warships is 25 knots/h.
Both the two survey ships are 32.78 metres in length and 8.4 metres in width and the highest speed of the two ships is 14 knots/h. The survey ships have the capacity to collect all sorts of hydrographic and oceanographic data.
The Prime Minister said the government has been making efforts to building Bangladesh Navy as a three-dimensional force.
She said the commissioning of the five modern ships will further strengthen the country’s naval force.
“With this, Bangladesh Navy has moved one step towards its progress,” she said adding that it is a matter of pride for the whole country and the nation, not only for the Bangladesh Navy.
Referring to the construction of the two modern survey ships at Khulna Shipyard, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has achieved the capacity of building modern ships.
She said the government handed over the Khulna Shipyard to Bangladesh Navy during her 1996-2001 tenure in order to modernise the shipyard further. “As a result, we’ve achieved the shipbuilding capacity,” she said.
The Prime Minister said she firmly believes that the two modern frigates and one corvette made by China as well as two modern survey ships constructed at our Khulna Shipyard will strengthen the capacity of Bangladesh Navy in protecting sovereignty of Bangladesh.
“The construction capacity of ships in own shipyard emboldens our confidence,” she said, expressing hope that Bangladesh will gradually achieve the capacity for building ships for other countries in future.
‘Working to build a vibrant blue economy’
The Prime Minister said the government has been working to build a vibrant blue economy by utilising marine resources for Bangladesh’s economic prosperity.
“We not only want to protect our sea areas, but also use marine resources so that we can achieve economic prosperity. We’ve adopted the concept of blue economy and keep working on it,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh attained its sovereignty in a vast sea area as the Awami League government took proper measures after assuming power in 2009.
She said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had formulated the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act, 1974 even before the United Nations adopted the marine law.
But other governments did not take any initiative over the country’s sovereignty in the sea area of Bangladesh in the long 21 years after the assassination of the Father of the Nation, she said.
“Those who came to power killing the Father of the Nation did not take any initiative over it or think of the country’s sovereignty in maritime areas during the next 21 years. When Awami League came to power in 1996, we started working on it,” she said.