Sri Lanka Navy accorded a 25-gun salute to the nation today, 04th February 2016, at the Lighthouse premises in Colombo Fort, at 12.00 p.m. to mark the 68th Independence Day. The Navy’s traditional gun salute, the highest of its kind, was accorded under the direction of the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne and the supervision of the Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Jayantha De Silva. The Gun Salute Squad, which executed the tradition to military precision befitting the occasion, was commanded by the Commanding Officer, SLNS Parakrama, Captain Nishantha Amarosa.
Sri Lanka Navy is the First Line of Defence of the island-nation and plays a vital role in protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Out of the multitude of customary rites it performs, the Gun Salute made on the Independence Day is of great significance due to the national importance of the occasion.
History says that two of the guns used for the occasion were first brought to Sri Lanka from the United Kingdom in order to accord a gun salute to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip who were to visit the island after a tour in South Africa. But she had not been able to complete the tour as her father, King George VI, had passed away and had to return. However, on the funeral day a 56-Gun Salute had been accorded by the Navy as the King’s age was 56 years. That was the highest ever Gun Salute accorded by the Navy in its 65-year illustrious history.
In 1948, the Navy had fired a 15-gun salute at the Galle Face Green on the first Independence Day. In 1949, the Gun Salute had been accorded onboard HMCyS ‘Vijaya’, the Navy’s first warship. After the HMCyS ‘Vijaya’ was decommissioned, the guns had been fixed at a place called Galle Buck Bay in the Colombo Harbour. Due to the Colombo harbour development and expansion, the guns had been brought to the present premises at the Lighthouse in the Fort of Colombo. At present, on February 04th, the Independence Day, the 25-Gunfire Salute is accorded to the nation by the Navy, exactly at 1200 hrs at noon, continuing the time-honoured tradition.