The President commissions SLNS Mihikatha & SLNS Rathnadeepa

His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa commissioned SLNS Mihikatha and SLNS Rathnadeepa at the Port of Colombo on 09th July 2014. Australian Minister for Immigration & Border Protection, Hon. Scott Morrison, Deputy Minister of Ports & Highways, Hon. Rohitha Abeygunawardene, Secretary to the President, Mr. Lalith Weerathunge, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence & Urban Development, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Her Excellency Robyn Mudie, Sri Lanka High Commissioner to Australia, His Excellency Admiral (retd) Thisara Samarasinghe, Chief of Defence Staff, General Jagath Jayasuriya, Chairman of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation, Admiral (retd) Jayanath Colombage, Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lieutenant General Daya Rathnayake, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera and Director General of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne graced the commissioning ceremony held in accordance with naval traditions.

SLNS Mihikatha and SLNS Rathnadeepa, two patrol boats gifted by Australia, joined the SLN Fleet on 29th March and 03rd June 2014 respectively and were assigned the pennant numbers P350 and P351. Both are Bay Class patrol boats, which had served the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service under the names “Corio Bay” and “Hervey Bay” respectively before being gifted to Sri Lanka. Each is 38.2 meters long and has a 2.4 meter draft. With a maximum speed of 24 knots, the boat can cover a range of 3,000 nautical miles.

The Commissioning Ceremony began at 0925hrs with the arrival of invitees and guests. The Chief Guest, His Excellency the President handed over the Commissioning Warrants to the Commanding Officers of the boats, Commander Janaka Samaranayake and Commander Ranjith Walgampaya. The Commissioning Warrants were thereafter read by the respective Commanding Officers followed by the ceremonial breaking of the Commissioning Pennants. Religious dignitaries representing Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic religions offered their blessings on the newly commissioned patrol boats.

Australian Prime Minister, Hon. Tony Abbott, while in Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting pledged the gift of two patrol vessels to SLN as a capacity enhancement measure. He commended the Sri Lanka Navy’s efforts in preventing people smuggling at a high-level meeting held onboard Sri Lanka Navy’s Flag Ship Sayura at the Port of Colombo on 17th November 2013.

The fully furbished boats will substantially augment the SLN’s capacity as they are able to cover a large area of the Indian Ocean and serve Sri Lanka’s Search and Rescue Area more effectively. The gift symbolizes the commitment of the key partners in enhancing maritime security in the region and the bilateral cooperation that exists between the two governments in combating people smuggling.