SBS Riverine Expedition along Mahaweli
The Special Boat Squadron of the Navy recently concluded a riverine expedition down the Mahaweli River through the winding distance from Mahiyanganaya to Gangai estuary that opens the main branch of the river at Trincomalee Bay.
The exercise aimed at getting familiar with the riverine terrain of the river and sharpening the skills of paddling inflatable craft, canoes and kayaks through varying flow features of flat water and rapids. It also tested the delicate art of river navigation and above all, the team spirit and the endurance of the participants. They won the challenge, paddling a distance of 176 kilometres in a record speed of four days. The team consisted of 22 SBS personnel including a former Commanding Officer of the Squadron, Commodore Ajith Samarasinghe and the Training Commander of the Squadron, Commander (SBS) AD Weerasinge, led by the Commanding Officer, Captain Priyantha Perera who is an avid kayaker with long years of experience in river and sea kayaking.
Commander Eastern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Rohan Amarasinghe, who guided the team from the planning stage through all actions, set an example to his subordinates by participating in the final day, paddling a 30km stretch with a group of keen officers of his command. Apart from an adventure experience, the Area Commander was able to make first-hand observations on some of the issues related to the river, particularly the river erosion caused by excessive sand mining and lack of water management, during the expedition.