The newly established Naval Hydrographic Office was ceremonially declared open under the patronage of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera in Mattakkuliya today (10, August). Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne was also present on this significant occasion.
The occasion was also attended by the Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Hon. Mrs. WMMR Adhikari, Chairman of the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency, Mr. Anil Premarathne, Managing Director Mr. BCW Iddemalgoda and a host of distinguished guests.
Marking the commencement of a new chapter in the nautical realm, the Sri Lanka Navy Hydrographic Service joined hands with the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) on 21st June 2016. Meanwhile, the new move will enable Sri Lanka Navy Hydrographic Service and NARA to enhance the ongoing nautical charting scheme for Sri Lanka more effectively and efficiently, making use of advanced technological instrument.
Addressing the august gathering, the Commander of the Navy made special remark on the Naval Wing of National Hydrographic Office and its role. Further he expressed his honest belief that the office would provide a very effective service in the years to come. Commander of the Navy also expressed his gratitude to the Hon. Minister and distinguished guests for gracing this significant occasion.
During his speech, the Minister Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera expressed that since the period of the terrorist activities, Sri Lanka Navy has been rendering a noble service to the motherland. He also appreciated NARA for joining hands with the Navy Hydrographic Office to provide an immeasurable service.
At present there are 20 ‘A’ grade hydrographic surveyors and 15 ‘B’ grade hydrographic surveyors are performing duty temporarily absorbed into the Navy Hydrographic Service. Besides, 85 naval personnel have been attached to the Navy Hydrographic Service as assistants to surveyors. Sri Lanka Navy, even before its partnership with NARA, rendered their assistance extensively in hydrographic exercises on the request of Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Authority to chart water causes, lakes and rivers.
Sri Lanka is located in a geographically important setting and gazing at about 36,000 merchant vessel pass through the southern coast of the island. As per the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), an international maritime treaty, we are bound to affirm the navigational security of the vessels frequenting in the Sri Lankan territorial waters. Apart from that drafting of navigational charts and updating them remain to be a responsibility of the Sri Lanka Navy Hydrographic Service. However, navigational charts drafted as early as the 18th and 19th century by the British, are yet in use for navigational purposes.
Drafting our own nautical charts and updating of them make to save a large sum of foreign income and such valuable data can draw a considerable amount of foreign currency for the country. The new office established at NARA will also open up such avenues in due course.
As many developed countries in the world, our neighbouring countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar are active partners in the field of hydrographic service and they extensively make use of hydrographic service in achieving developmental goals. Therefore, Sri Lanka Navy Hydrographic Service expects to provide quality hydrographic data in support of decision making towards sustainable development, protection and safe use of Sri Lanka’s maritime domain.
The first Hydrographic Officer of the Sri Lanka Navy, Rear Admiral (Retd.) J Jayasooriya, Chief Hydrographer of the Navy, Rear Admiral Sisira Jayakody, Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Niraja Attygalle, Director General Logistics, Rear Admiral Nihal Fernando, Director General Services, Rear Admiral Nimal Sarathsena, Director General Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Rear Admiral Upul Ekanayake, Secretary to the Commander Of The Navy and Naval Secretary, Rear Admiral Udaya Hettiarachchi and senior officers were present on the occasion.