Give us more ships, Bangladesh Navy tells MPs

June 23rd, 2009 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 23 (IANS) The Bangladesh Navy has sought modern ships and equipment and an overall maritime policy to better guard the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
A report submitted to the country’s lawmakers Monday also sought a separate hydrography department to be able to delineate the maritime boundary vis a vis its neighbours India and Myanmar with whom it recently had stand-offs in the high seas.

Bangladesh is keen to join the race for oil and gas exploration, but it has not been able to resolve the territorial disputes in the absence of a maritime boundary.

Bangladesh Navy ships had last year confronted survey ships that were accompanied by warships of the two neighbours. Confrontation was avoided in both cases after hectic diplomatic activity. In the case of Myanmar, Dhaka had sounded out Beijing.

Naval officials told a parliamentary committee that it was facing difficulties in safeguarding the country’s economic interest and exercising maritime control within the EEZ and the continental shelf due to lack of modern equipment, manpower and fund, The Daily Star said Tuesday.

The navy also sought “prudent directives for overcoming their limitations so that the force is able to fulfil the nation’s expectation”, the newspaper said quoting committee sources.

M. Idris Ali, a lawmaker in the parliamentary standing committee on the defence ministry, said almost all of the naval ships were very old. Two of the four frigates of the navy are over 50 years old, Ali told the media.

The last frigate, purchased from South Korea a decade back, was named “Bangabandhu”. It was mothballed by the previous Khaleda Zia government (2001-06) on the suspicion that there was a kickback in the deal. It was re-commissioned last year.

The lawmakers said they would consider the navy’s plea for more ships and equipment, but said the funds could be a constraint.

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