Bangladesh Navy (BN) created under Bangladesh Forces during the War of Liberation in 1971. Its formal creation was ratified in July 1971 in the Bangladesh Sector Commanders Conference. Many Bangali sailors and officers of the Pakistan Navy defected to form the Bangladesh Navy. Bangladesh Navy started its journey with only two small gun-boats named Padma and Palash received from India, and 49 sailors. They carried out guerilla attack and front war and in most cases they were successful. Besides, 8 groups comprising 8 sailors and 500 other members carried out 'operation jackpot' successfully in different sea and river ports destroying 26 warships of the enemy and neutralised the sea routes. This action by Bangladesh Navy against well trained Pakistani Forces within relatively short span of time mark a glorious chapter in the history of our liberation.
Presently there are approximately 1200 officers, 12,000 sailors and 2500 civil staff in the Navy. Bangladesh Navy is composed of 80 warships including 5 large Naval Bases located at Dhaka, Chittagong, Kaptai, Khulna and Mangla. Vice Admiral Zahir Uddin Ahmed is commanding Bangladesh Navy as chief of the naval staff (CNS).
Bangladesh Navy is vested with sacred responsibilities of safeguarding approximately 1,03,000 sq km sea area which is almost 75% of the total area of Bangladesh. BN is performing the sacred duties of maintaining the territorial integrity and ensuring the unhindered economic activities in these waters. Basically, BN has two specific role, wartime and peacetime. During wartime, she has to maintain a fleet to provide deterrence and defense against enemy. Besides, BN has to provide protection for the offshore assets and protection for maritime trade effectively. During peacetime, BN is engaged in anti-smuggling, anti piracy, anti-gun running tasks and also, fishery protection and pollution control. Bangladesh Navy appears to the general people of the coastal area as their friend during natural calamities like flood or cyclone.
After the Liberation, with an object of forming necessary naval infrastructure, two Ex Royal Navy Frigates were commissioned in BN as BNS Umar Farooq and BNS Ali Haider in 1976 and 1978 respectively. Later in 1982, the 3rd Ex Royal Navy Frigate joined BN as BNS Abu Bakr. Inclusion of these 3 Frigates is considered as the principal foundation of BN Fleet. Since then BN has undergone dramatic changes over the last couple of decades. It is not only changed in size and shape but also in its role, mission and vision. Along with the inclusion of various ships BN gradually acquired naval guns of various caliber, torpedoes, missiles (SSM and SAM), mines, and other hard and soft kill arsenal. During the immediate past decade BN has entered into the modern technology. Over the years BN has developed various infrastructures including missile, torpedo, mine and ammunition depots, servicing centre, maintenance facilities, inspection procedure and logistic chains. In modernization of its arsenal BN is proactive to phase out and phase in its stock of ammunition and ships to keep pace with the modern world navies. Today, BN has grown into its respectable form and is regarded as the vanguard of maritime defense of the country. Efforts are being made to include Naval Aviation Wing soon.
In promoting global peace and stability, Bangladesh Navy joined United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in 1993. Our peacekeepers had been operating in many of the beleaguered areas of the world, under difficult circumstances, even against serious threats to their lives. They have earned national honor and prestige by dint of their sincerity, hard work and dedication to the cause of world peace. At present 219 BN members are deployed in Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Chad, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sudan. Till now BN personnel have completed 23 peacekeeping missions, where 1124 members have so far participated.
During peacetime, training plays a vital role to prepare naval personnel for war. There are several training institutes for grooming BN officers and sailors. These are bangladesh naval academy for officer's basic training and BNS Isa Khan, Titumir and Shaheed Moazzam for professional training of both officers and sailors. Basically, three revolutionary developments in the field of naval training enabled BN to produce officers and sailors of international standard and make them capable of undertaking tasks anywhere in the world. These are: Bangladesh Naval Academy for training of officers, formation of Operational Sea Training Guide for shipboard team training and inclusion of the School of Maritime Warfare and Tactics for war-gaming and simulator based training. School of Maritime Warfare and Tactics, which is also known as the War-gaming Center of BN, is comprised of a series of state-of-the-art training Simulators including Action Speed Tactical Trainer, Marine Bridge Simulators, Sonar Simulator and Electronic Warfare Simulators.
A naval cadet undergoes 18 months of training in the Naval Academy which is located in the picturesque site of Patenga in Chittagong. A further 6 months training on board the sea going ships prepare him /her for duties of a commissioned officer in Bangladesh Navy. After 2 years of training, young cadet is commissioned as a first class gazetted officer of the Government of Bangladesh. The BSc degree is awarded on successful completion of 3 years, syllabus under the Bangladesh University of Professionals. However, a naval officer's training continues till the 4th year of joining when an executive branch officer earns his watch-keeping certificate. After commission, executive branch officers are sent to BNS Isa Khan, supply branch officers to BNS Titumir and technical branch officers are sent to Military Institute of Science and Technology for attending technical course.
On completion of theoretical training, officers receive practical training from ship. Besides, officers are sent for sub-specialisation course on various subjects both at home and abroad, and officers from all branches undergo Junior Staff Course in Bangladesh Naval Academy. Officer's specialisation courses are conducted at BNS Isa Khan, BNS Shaheed Moazzam and BNS Titumir. Besides, during supply branch officers' specialisation course they are awarded MBA degree under Khulna University. Selected mid level officers are sent for staff course at Defence Services Command and Staff College, and Armed Forces War Course at Mirpur. Senior officer are sent for higher course at National Defence College, Mirpur. Initial training for all branches of sailors are conducted at BNS Titumir for six months. Afterwards they are also sent for various courses to different training bases. Selected qualified sailors are also sent for course abroad.
The officer's rank of Bangladesh Navy consists of Acting Sub Lieutenant, Sub Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander, Commander, Captain, Commodore, Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral and Admiral.
In the coming years, Bangladesh Navy plans for major purchase of weaponry, equipment and hardware including missiles, aircraft for maritime patrol, frigates and helicopters. BN is trying to purchase modern platform like BNS Bangabandhu, the most modern ship of Bangladesh Navy. Besides, she is in the process of replacing her three age-old ex-Royal Navy frigates (BNS Abu Bakr, Umar Farooq and BNS Ali Haider) with modern frigates within next couple of years. The Navy is also expecting helicopter from Italy soon. Inclusion of helicopter will make her a two-dimensional Navy for the time being. Besides, she has active plans to acquire submarines and Maritime Patrol Aircrafts to become a three-dimensional Navy.
The professional capability of a naval force rests on the investment in operational readiness to prepare for war. Although BN has got a number of platforms, it is not sufficient to perform the assigned duties. To safeguard the sovereignty of the country as well as to keep pace with neighboring countries BN need to augment her Fleet immediately. For this reason, efforts are being made to purchase modern platforms which will enable prolonged presence of BN ships in the Exclusive Economic Zone for surveillance. As the Navy's business is very complex, the manpower needs to be organised and trained to meet the challenging requirements of maintaining ships and effective utilisation of its arsenal. BN hoisted her sail in the early 1970s that lead to increase the manpower, standard of training etc. Today she is able to conduct training to foreign naval officers and sailors as well. Besides, BN ships are being sent regularly for goodwill visit and cruise abroad. These enhance the professional knowledge and good relationship through interactions.
Today, Bangladesh Navy is proudly performing her sacred duties in the vast sea areas with her ships and manpower. Every member of BN is committed to comply with the motto 'In war and peace, invincible at sea'. [Farid Habib]