Published on: March 1, 2024

President Wickremesinghe pledges to safeguard Sri Lanka’s economic initiatives in the Indian Ocean

  • SL Navy entrusted with safeguarding Sri Lanka’s oceans and Indian Ocean.
  • Security of Red Sea vital to protect country’s port economics – says the President at Presidential fleet Review of SLN at Trincomalee Harbour.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that the Sri Lanka Navy has been entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding Sri Lanka’s oceanic territories, including the Indian Ocean region. He underscored that the nation’s economic initiatives will not be permitted to suffer any harm in the Indian Ocean.

Additionally, the President highlighted the historical context of the closure of the Suez Canal for a decade during the 1967 Israeli-Arab war and its effects on the Colombo port’s operations. He emphasized the imperative of ensuring the security of the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to safeguard the economic interests of the country’s ports.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks while delivering a speech at the Presidential Fleet Review of the Sri Lanka Navy held this morning (01) at the Trncomalee Harbour.

As Commander-in-Chief, President Ranil Wickremesinghe was warmly welcomed with a guard of honour by the Sri Lanka Navy upon his arrival at the Trincomalee Naval Base.

During the ceremony, the President awarded President Colours to the Sri Lanka Navy’s Special Boat Squadron for their dedicated efforts in advancing the country’s maritime aspirations and ensuring the security of Sri Lanka’s oceanic territories.

The event was further enhanced by a naval display performed by the navy’s special boat squadron and other warships.

Meanwhile, the President onboard a Dora vessel participated in observing the fleet of warships engaged in operations, which were anchored at sea and docked in the harbour. The Commander-in-Chief, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, formally inspected the warships SLNS Gajabahu, SLNS Samudura, SLNS Parakramabahu, SLNS Sagara, SLNS Udara, SLNS Shakthi, SLNS Nandimithra and SLNS Sayurala during this observation.

Navy Commander Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera presented a memento to President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Meanwhile, the President also recorded his remarks in the logbook at the Naval Base.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing the Ceremony, remarked,

“Today is a momentous day for the Navy’s Special Boat Squadron. President awards were bestowed upon this squadron today.

It has been 30 years since the establishment of this squadron, back in 1993. The decision to create such a division within the navy was made following the existence of two special service divisions within our army. This initiative was a result of prolonged discussions among navy commanders within the National Security Council.

This squadron has played a pivotal role in the navy’s strategic efforts against LTTE terrorists. Hence, while it may not be necessary to enumerate the specific contributions made by this squadron, it is important to convey my heartfelt gratitude for their service. Furthermore, this squadron has earned reverence and acknowledgment as a vital component of the Sri Lanka Navy. Hence, I implore all of you to uphold the esteemed reputation of this squadron by executing your duties with even greater excellence, even after receiving the presidential colours.

Furthermore, during the recent conflict, the Sri Lanka Navy rendered invaluable service to the nation. The sacrifices made by all the Navy personnel, as well as the resources lost, are etched in history. Since its inception, our Navy has been dedicated to safeguarding not only the territorial waters of Sri Lanka but also the wider Indian Ocean region. We have pledged our commitment to the agreement of the United Nations in this matter. It is imperative that we prevent any harm to our economic endeavours in the Indian Ocean.

Furthermore, we have made arrangements to deploy our navy for the security of the Red Sea. Recalling the adverse effects of the closure of the Suez Canal during the 1967 Israeli-Arab war, which halted operations at the Colombo port for a decade, underscores the necessity of safeguarding the Indian Ocean. It is imperative for us to ensure the security of the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to protect the economic value of our ports. I am confident that our navy will effectively undertake this responsibility in the future.

Today’s event holds historical significance as it takes place at the Trincomalee Harbour, which is not only esteemed in Sri Lanka but also worldwide. Dating back to the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa eras, this port has been recognized as a crucial maritime hub.

This harbour played a pivotal role in the victory of the British in the Asian region during the Second World War. It is imperative that we safeguard this harbour, which is a crucial asset of our nation. We must exercise prudence and vigilance in its protection. Today, as Commander-in-Chief, I had the privilege to inspect the naval fleet. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to them and the entire Navy for their dedicated service to our country.

The event was attended by State Minister for Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to the President Sagala Ratnayaka, Eastern Province Governor, Senthil Thondaman, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence General Kamal Gunaratne (retired), Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Eastern Naval Area Rear Admiral Suresh De Silva, Commanding Officer of the Special Boat Squadron Captain Dharmasiri Herath, along with a officers and members of the SL Navy.

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