Beijing:  Pakistan's navy commissioned its first fast attack craft armed with missiles at a Chinese shipyard on Monday, with its chief Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila saying that the force was fully prepared to counter any elements challenging the country's sovereignty.

Sandila was the chief guest at the commissioning of PNS Azmat, Pakistan's first "fast attack craft (missile)" at Xingang shipyard in Tianjin. He said the vessel's induction will supplement the Pakistani navy's combat potential.

Pakistani navy is "fully prepared to counter any forces challenging Pakistan's sovereignty or threatening the security of the country's waters," he said.

Describing the commissioning of the vessel as a milestone in defence and strategic cooperation between Pakistan and China, Sandila said: "This ship will undoubtedly be a very welcome addition in the Pakistan navy fleet which would indeed provide synergy in defence of our sea frontiers.

"Its immense firepower coupled with stealthy features makes it a real versatile platform which would not only prove vital for ensuring effective presence in our area of operations, but would bring a new dimension of operation of stealthy platform of this tonnage."

Sandila said a second fast attack craft will be completed in Pakistan by the end of 2012. PNS Azmat is equipped with advanced weapons and sensors.

An official statement said the vessel will strengthen the Pakistani navy's "advance naval warfare capability and prowess."  Work on the two fast attack craft was started in Pakistan and China in June 2010.

On its way to Pakistan, the Azmat will stop over in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

(Agencies)