Sri Lanka Navy took part in the 68th Independence Day celebrations held at Galle Face Green, Colombo on 04th February 2016. The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Religious dignitaries, the Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Commanders of the Armed Forces, the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the Civil Defence Force and Government officials were also in attendance. A large number of people had thronged to the venue to witness the 68th Independence Day celebrated under the theme "One Nation, Great Power" (Ekama Deyak, Maha Balayak). Among the distinguished invitees participating in the Independence Day celebrations was Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy.
The Independence Day celebrations commenced with the hoisting of the National Flag by His Excellency the President amidst the beating of “Magul Bera” and blowing of conch shells. The National Flag for the occasion was customarily made ready by the naval personnel of the Communication Branch of the Sri Lanka Navy in keeping with the customs and traditions involved in its hoisting. The National Anthem was sung by 100 students from the schools in the Colombo District to the music was provided by the Sri Lanka Navy’s Oriental Orchestra.
A Guard of Honour followed by a 21-gun salute was awarded to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Thereafter, His Excellency the President delivered the address to the nation.
At the Independence Day parade which followed, Commodore Sumith Weerasinghe rode in the pilot vehicle representing the Sri Lanka Navy. The naval contingent, which marched in the parade, was led by Commander Kosala Wijesooriya. It consisted of five divisions, comprising of naval personnel representing the Naval Headquarters, the Afloat Command, the Special Boat Squadron (SBS), the Rapid Action Boat Squadron (RABS) and women sailors.
A total of 972 naval personnel including 36 officers marched in the Independence Day Parade, clad in blue and white uniforms and camouflage to the tunes played by the Navy Band. The President’s colours of the Naval Headquarters, Eastern, Northern, Afloat Commands, and Naval & Maritime Academy conferred in recognition of the services of excellence rendered to the Nation were paraded with pride by the naval personnel, showcasing the pivotal role played by the Navy in protecting the seas surrounding the island-nation.
The Naval Headquarters contingent consisting of all branches was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Buddika Sampath. Naval troops belonging to the Afloat Command, representing all ships and craft which play a pivotal role in defending the nation from external threat and maritime terrorism, the formidable Fourth Fast Attack Flotilla and the Navy's Fast Gun Boats Squadron marched under the command of Lieutenant Commander Lakruwan Jinasena. Naval troops of the Special Boat Squadron, whose motto is "Fortune favours the Brave", the veterans in the water-born, land-based and air-born warfare, who are specialized in operations behind enemy lines and securing beaches, was led by Lieutenant Commander Tissa Kumara. Naval troops belonging to the Rapid Action Boat Squadron, whose motto is "Victory is beyond infinity", which came into being with the SLN's innovative Small Boat concept, specializing in close quarter sea battles, marched under the command of Lieutenant Commander Priyashantha Wickremaarachchi. Navy women sailors, who render a valuable contribution serving in the Medical, Communication, Supply and IT branches, marched under the command of Lieutenant Commander Nadeeka Wijekoon.
Sri Lanka Navy’s Landing Ship Tank, SLNS Shakthi, Fast Missile Vessels, SLNS Nandimitra and SLNS Suranimala, Fast Gun Boats, SLNS Prathapa and SLNS Ranajaya, Patrol Boats, SLNS Rathnadeepa and SLNS Mihikatha led by Offshore Patrol Vessel, SLNS Samudura sailed past in formation in the seas off the Galle Face Green paying their tribute to the nation as the naval contingent clad in their ceremonial dresses marched past the special dais where the President took the salute of the Armed Forces and the Police. The parade concluded with a colourful parachute jump made by tri-forces personnel.