CHITTAGONG, March 12, 2017 (BSS) - Putting emphasis on building strong armed forces to safeguard the country's sovereignty, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said Bangladesh would always remain ready to give a befitting reply, if anyone attacks the country.
"We don't want to engage in war, but there would be our instant preparation for giving a befitting reply, if anyone attacks the country ... for this, we would continue to do whatever is necessary," she told the commissioning function of the first two submarines of Bangladesh Navy.
The premier said Bangladesh wants to maintain good relations with all to develop the country and ensure welfare for its people. "But as an independent state, we would procure everything necessary for protecting the country's sovereignty and independence," she said.
Earlier, Sheikh Hasina formally commissioned the Bangladesh Navy's two submarines named "Nabajatra" and "Joyjatra" at a special ceremony in the Chittagong Naval Berth.
She handed over the "commissioning formans" to the commanding officers of the submarines procured from China and formally unveiled their name plaques as per the rules of the navy.
Sheikh Hasina expressed her firm belief that the newly-commissioned submarines would play an important role during any crisis period.
The prime minister said a few countries of the world operate submarines, and Bangladesh has been placed in that list from today. "As a nation, it's a matter of a great honour and dignity for us," she said.
She said the two submarines have added unprecedented capability of strengthening the defence system to save the country from the aggression of the external enemies.
Recalling the glorious history of the naval commandoes during the war of liberation, the prime minister directed the submariners to face the challenges of operating submarines with immense courage and being imbued with the spirit of patriotism.
Pointing out that the history of the Bangalee as a nation is the history of heroes, the premier advised the submariners to ensure optimum utilization of the two submarines with a patriotic zeal, merit and labour. "My all-time good wishes will be there so that your all operational missions become successful," she said.
She said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave "naval ensign" to Bangladesh Navy in 1974 by realizing the importance of the navy for the just independent Bangladesh and expressed her firm resolve to establish a modern and strong naval force.
"Following the guidelines of the Father of the Nation, we have been able to induct submarines into strengthening our navy," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government after assuming office in 1996 took various realistic measures for infrastructural development, procurement of warships and raising operational capability of the existing ships.
"Bangladesh Navy has been gradually turned into a dignified force on the world stage by way of implementing a far-reaching vision for the navy," she said.
Congratulating the submariners to become crews of the first two submarines of Bangladesh Navy, She said it's a matter of rare luck and honour for the nation.
Pointing out that operating submarines as a risky job, she said, "The tough work would be easy when you would work by utilizing your training and initiatives."
She added: "You are new crews and your aim should be to get prepared for real operation by gathering experience of running submarines in the sea."
The prime minister also directed the submariners to make contributions to framing a policy and building infrastructure and equipment to establish the newly-framed "submarine arm" as a full-fledged branch.
Sheikh Hasina said her government after assuming office in 2009 has been working ceaselessly for establishing regional peace and security. "We're determined so that none can conduct terrorist acts by using our territory like in the past," she said.
The prime minister said the present government has already taken various short and long-term plans to build Bangladesh Navy as an effective "three-dimensional force". "The plans would be implemented by 2030 Insha Allah," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said in Bangladesh's history, the highest number of warships have been inducted into the navy within shortest time during the present government.
She said the most modern corvettes procured from China recently have increased the strength of the navy. "Besides, our own capability to construct warships is being boosted and the work on building modern LPCs is underway at Khulna Shipyard," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the present government has taken a project to construct frigates at Chittagong Dry Dock run by Bangladesh Navy. "With the execution of the project, Bangladesh would achieve self-reliance in building warships," she said.
At the outset of her speech, the premier paid her heart-felt tributes to Bangabandhu and said the Father of the Nation in his historic six-point charter of demands raised the issue of establishing the naval headquarters in Purba Bangla.
"Bangabandhu through his prudence and farsightedness framed "The Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act-1974" through which the international tribunal didn't start work at that time," she said.
Due to the protection of the act, she said, Bangladesh earned the authority over more than one lakh 30 thousand square kilometres maritime area from Myanmar and India through international arbitration, opening the avenue towards the potentially of the "Blue Economy" for the country.
"To exploit this potentiality, we have built Bangladesh Navy as a three-dimensional force," she said.
The prime minister said there was no submarine in the navy over the last 46 years of Bangladesh's independence. "Our capability has been raised many folds as we have inducted two most modern submarines into our naval fleet recently," she said, adding the navy has now literally emerged as a three-dimensional force.
She said opening up the skyline for the navy was the first step to build it as a three-dimensional force. The naval aviation was constituted with helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft during the present government, she said, adding such new helicopters and aircraft would be added to it soon.
Sheikh Hasina said alongside increasing the naval fleet, all types of measures are being taken for necessary infrastructural development including establishment of own aircraft and submarine bases for the navy.
In its continuation, she said, the foundation of the biggest naval base named BN Sher-e-Bangla was laid in Rabnabad area of Patuakhali during the present government.
The prime minister said the issues of safety, maintenance and training are involved alongside induction of submarines. "The work on increasing various facilities including construction of a separate base is underway and the promise that I made for turning the navy into a true three-dimensional force has been fulfilled with the addition of submarines to it," she said, expressing gratitude to Almighty Allah.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has been connected today to the highway of development and a beautiful tomorrow is waiting for all. "The Bangladesh Navy has started its fresh journey in a new form and with great strength alongside the progress of the country," she said declaring the commissioning of two submarines.
She also urged all to move with self confidence keeping their heads high. "We're a victorious nation and we earned independence through the War of Liberation ... we would move ahead keeping our heads high and we never bow down to anybody," she said.
?The prime minister thanked the Chinese government, Navy and the people for modernizing two submarines for Bangladesh Navy, imparting training to their all crews and providing post-handing over long-term technical assistance.
"Through this, China has set an example of true cooperation," she said.
Sheikh Hasina also thanked the Dalian Liaonan Shipyard and all associated personnel for maintaining the highest standard to modernize these two submarines.
"May I also thank and welcome our friends from china who have
come a long way to attend this ceremony," she said. ? The prime minister later witnessed an introduction exhibition on achieving capability of a three-dimensional force by the navy with the participation of BN Ship Bangabandhu, two helicopters, two MPAs and an all-round naval commando team.
She also inaugurated various base support facilities constructed for the submarines and laid the foundation stone of BNS Sheikh Hasina, a full-fledged base for the submarines.
A documentary on the long work for the acquisition of the two submarines was screened at the function. A munajat was also offered on the occasion seeking continued peace, progress and prosperity of the nation as well as further development of the armed forces.
Sheikh Hasina also boarded the newly commissioned submarines and went round different sections.
Ministers, parliament members, advisers to the prime minister, the chiefs of three services, diplomats, high civil and military officials and also editors and senior journalists were present on the occasion.
Earlier, on her arrival at the Chittagong Naval Base, the premier was received by Naval Chief Admiral Nizamuddin Ahmed and Commander of Chittagong Naval Region Rear Admiral M Abu Ashraf.
A ship brought Bangladesh's first submarines to Chittagong Port from China on December 22. Earlier, the submarines were handed over to Bangladesh on November 14. On behalf of the Chinese government, Rear Admiral Liu Zizhu handed over the submarines to Bangladesh Navy Chief Admiral Mohammad Nizamuddin Ahmed at a function at a Dalian city shipyard in Liaoning province.
The conventional diesel electric submarines are 76 metres in length
and 7.6 metres in width, equipped with torpedoes and mines, which are capable of attacking enemy warships and submarines.
The highest speed of the submarines is about 17 nautical mile per hour and their displacement is 1609 tonnes.
The naval personnel of both the countries completed a sea trial and real training to operate the submarines, an ISPR release said after their arrival in Chittagong on Dec 22.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)