Logistics: Indian Ocean Replenishment Race

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November 2, 2018: In October, more than two years after it was launched, Pakistan put its locally built replenishment ship (PNS Moawin) into service. This 17,000 ton vessel is considered a tanker because it mostly carries fuel, in addition to fresh water, food and other dry supplies. There is a hanger and flight deck that can handle two helicopters and at-sea transfer equipment on both sides of the ship so that two ships can be resupplied at the same time while supplies are also moved via helicopter.

There are two Phalanx CIWS (Close In Weapons Systems) for defense against missiles, helicopters and small boats. There are also two 12.7mm machine-guns. Moawin also has medical facilities and can be used for disaster relief missions. In these situations, cargo space can be converted to carry several hundred civilians. Moawin can also carry several hundred troops instead. Top speed is 36 kilometers an hour and the crew of 208 has supplies to remain at sea for 90 days. The ship was built in cooperation with a Turkish shipbuilding firm.

Pakistan currently has a 21,000 ton Chinese Type 905 replenishment ship bought in 1987. There are also four small tankers that rarely operate far from the coast. Moawin is similar to India’s first locally-built replenishment ship, INS Adiyta, which entered service in 2000. Construction was delayed several times by technical problems. Adiyta was ordered in 1987 and launched in 1993 but problems with the engines and other equipment delayed completion. Described as a tanker, because over 70 percent of cargo space is for fuel. The rest of the space is for freshwater and dry supplies for other ships. Adiyta displaces 24,600 tons and has a range of 18,000 kilometers at 30 kilometers an hour.

The Indian Ocean, where Indian replenishment ships were often seen far out to see, has seen a lot more Chinese replenishment ships because of the steady traffic from Chinese going to and from tours of duty off Somalia. In 2008 the Type 905s became regular participants in the four month deployments of Chinese warships (usually a destroyer and a frigate) and a replenishment ship to spend three months with the international anti-piracy patrol off Somalia. The Type 905s carried 10,500 tons of fuel, 1,000 tons of diesel, 400 tons of water and 50 tons of refrigerated items (mainly food, but also medicine). In the 1990s the Type 905s were primarily resupplying destroyers on long voyages. A single Type 905 could keep three destroyers supplied via at-sea refueling and was able to keep two warships operating off Somalia (although the 905s would make trips to ports to get more supplies itself). The Type 905s also had a helicopter pad and were armed with four twin-37mm anti-aircraft guns. The Type 905s have since been joined by several new generations of Chinese designed replenishment ships.

 


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