Bangladesh will buy five naval ships from the UK to modernise the armed forces as part of the Forces Goal 2030 as the country aspires to become a developed nation by 2041.
“We have decided in principle to buy five naval ships. The objectives of this purchase is to monitor and protect our huge sea frontiers from others who enter our territories for fishing or other purposes,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told this correspondent from London yesterday.
The issue was discussed at a bilateral meeting between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her UK counterpart Boris Johnson on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow on Wednesday.
The British premier proposed selling other defence equipment, including aircraft, said Momen.
“The negotiation went on for a long time. This time, we agreed in principle to buy five naval ships. Three of those will be imported from the UK and the two others will be built in our dockyard in Chattogram.”
The minister said the final deal on the procurement is yet to be signed. “Our Ministry of Defence will be working on it. We will surely buy the ships at a competitive price.”
The development comes at a time when the Indo-Pacific region is drawing more global attention.
There is already the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as the QUAD, a strategic dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia, which analysts say is aimed at countering China.
Moreover, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced on September 15 a security pact called AUKUS for the Indo-Pacific region. Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
Momen said Bangladesh and the UK have a solid relationship which is growing day by day — be it in the areas of development, trade and politics.
Earlier on October 14, Type 23 frigate HMS Kent of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group deployment (CSG21) sailed to the naval base in Chattogram marking the celebration of Bangladesh’s Golden Jubilee of independence and highlighting the historic bilateral defence connections and people-to-people relationship between the UK and Bangladesh.
HMS Kent engaged in a series of events with the Bangladesh Navy and the local administration in Chattogram to maximise bilateral relations benefitting both countries’ military, trade, and political alliances.
“This year, with the spirit of Brit Bangla Bondhon, the UK is demonstrating the depth and significance of UK-Bangla ties through its commitment to engage more with Bangladesh as a partner of sustainable peace and growth,” the UK High Commission in Dhaka said in a statement on October 18.
British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson said the welcoming of the frigate builds on a long history of defence cooperation that the UK is extremely proud of.
“We are committed to deepening our cooperation as a key part of the enduring relationship between our two countries.”
According to the statement, a significant number of Bangladesh Navy personnel have trained alongside the Royal Navy in the UK, including at the Royal College of Defence Studies.