SLNS ‘Weeraya’ and ‘Jagatha’ wave farewell to their distinguished service
Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne on 12th October 2020 presided over the ceremonial decommissioning that had been organized with great pomp and circumstance to bid adieu to Sri Lanka Navy Ship (SLNS) ‘Weeraya’ and ‘Jagatha’ at the Naval Dockyard Trincomalee. The duo of ships of the 3rd Fast Gun Boat Squadron has rendered a priceless service to the Sri Lanka Navy for over four decades with a noble resolve to ensure the security of the Sri Lankan waters.
The commissioning of a naval ship into the service is done by authorizing it with a special commissioning warrant signed by the President. By the same token, the decommissioning procedure too demands a special approval of the President of the country. Consequently, the decommissioning of SLNS ‘Weeraya’ and ‘Jagatha’ was carried out with the seal of approval of the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Way back in 1972, when Rear Admiral DV Hunter was the Commander of the Navy, one of the two ships waved farewell was commissioned into the naval fleet as Her Majesty's Ceylon Ship (HMCyS) ‘Weeraya' and after the country becoming a republic she was renamed as SLNS ‘Weeraya’ to continue her service to the nation for about 48 years. Some 08 years later, when Rear Admiral AWH Perera at helm in the Sri Lanka Navy, the other ship was commissioned into the Sri Lanka Navy fleet in 1980 as SLNS ‘Jagatha’ and she too has been in active service about 04 decades, as she brought her journey to a standstill.
Produced in the People’s Republic of China in 1961, the service of these ships became very vital to the Sri Lanka Navy, with the outbreak of the Eelam War I in the early 1980s. Further, they were pressed into action to quash arms smuggling and terrorist activities in the seas off the Karainagar Island during that period. From their inception, the two ships have been in service over half century of years, as they reach the maximum life cycle as of now.
Marking the culmination of the decommissioning ceremony, the paying off pennants (long pennants equivalent to the lengths of each ship) were ceremonially scissored off into equal segments and a piece was distributed among the ships’ crew, in compliance with time-honoured naval traditions. Being two old yet prominent cogs of the wheel of the Navy fleet and rendering a praiseworthy service spanning over 04 decades for the mission requirement of the Sri Lanka Navy, SLNS ‘Weeraya’ and ‘Jagatha’ were decommissioned leaving their memory in a legacy. Meanwhile, the 02 ships will soon find their new home on the seabed off the port of Trincomalee making those fine artificial fish breeding grounds, upon their decades-long tour of duty.
As a guest of honour of this significant event, the decommissioning ceremony was attended by Rear Admiral (Retd) JTG Sundaram who Commanded ‘Weeraya’ from 01st January 1980 to 25th January 1981 as its 06th Commanding Officer. Moreover, Commander Eastern Naval Area Rear, Admiral Ruwan Perera, Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Rear Admiral YMGB Jayathilake, Deputy Area Commander of Eastern Naval Command, Commodore Anura Danapala, Commanding Officer SLNS ‘Weeraya’, Commander RPCJ Rajapaksha, Commanding Officer SLNS ‘Jagatha’, Lieutenant Commander KS Ranasinghe, senior officers from the Navy Headquarters and Eastern Naval Command, Commanding Officers of ships and establishments in the Eastern Naval Command, officer under trainees of the Naval and Maritime Academy and a large group of naval personnel were also present on this momentous occasion. Meanwhile, all proceedings of the decommissioning ceremony had been meticulously organized adhering to the prevention guidelines of COVID – 19.