SLNS ‘Jayasagara’ relinquishes her service in the Navy

The ceremonial decommissioning of Sri Lanka Naval Ship (SLNS) ‘Jayasagara’ took place under the patronage of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne at the Naval Dockyard in Trincomalee on 30th September 2021. The impressive event held in keeping with naval traditions was also attended by President Navy Seva Vanitha Unit, Mrs. Chandima Ulugetenne. Attached to the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) fleet, SLNS ‘Jayasagara’ rendered an invaluable service, by ensuring the maritime security of the island nation for nearly (04) four decades, as a maritime surveillance vessel.

This ship was built at the Colombo Dockyard Ltd. and during the tenure of the Commander of the Navy, Rear Admiral AHA De Silva, she was commissioned as SLNS ‘Jayasagara’ (P601) on 09th December 1983. Then Commander, AI Jayawardana had the rare distinction of becoming the 1st Commanding Officer of the ship which went on to serve the country for the rest of years which almost amounted to 04 decades. SLNS ‘Jayasagara’ once remained to be the Flag Ship of the SLN fleet until late ’90s and also made a significant contribution during the Humanitarian Operation which paved the way to free the motherland from the clutches of separatist terrorism. Joined the SLN fleet the same year (1983), her sister ship SLNS ‘Sagarawardena’ (P 602) was too engaged in surveillance missions, before she was victimized by an LTTE suicide attack, south of Mannar on 19th September 1994.

'Jayasagara' was instrumental in the Operation Rana Derana, which was launched in 1990 to liberate the displaced civilians on the island of Mannar from the clutches of terrorists. Besides, she has escorted many vessels in their passages from the north to south and vice versa, at the height of sea tiger activities. Moreover, she was deployed in many operations ranging from the busting of drug, arms and contraband smuggling to the rescue of distressed naval and fishing community in Sri Lanka’s Search and Rescue Region.

The ship has participated in various naval exercises including the International Fleet Review – 1990 in Malaysia and Naval Exercise - MILAN 1999 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. She has been one of the training-cradles for a number of young officers and sailors of the Sri Lanka Navy over the years. Similarly, the incumbent Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne has also been attached to SLNS ‘Jayasagara’ for his first appointment, after his basic training.

Both commissioning and decommissioning of a naval ship is a unique spectacle that takes place in a traditional naval setting. Signifying the culmination of the decommissioning ceremony, the paying off pennant (long pennant equivalent to the length of the ship) was ceremonially scissored off into equal segments and a piece was distributed among the ship’s crew, in compliance with time-honoured naval traditions. After having relinquished her naval duties to which she was committed nearly about 04 decades, ‘Jayasagara’ will be handed over to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, to begin her new chapter of service.

The momentous event also saw the attendance of Rear Admiral (Retd.) DK Dassanayake and his spouse as Guests of Honour, at the invitation of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne. The senior officer held the appointment as Commanding Officer of ‘Jayasagara’ from 29th May 1984 to 19th January 1985. Adding significance to the occasion, Commander Eastern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Sanjeewa Dias presented special mementoes to Commander of the Navy and Rear Admiral (Retd.) DK Dassanayake.

The proceedings of the decommission ceremony have been organized in compliance with COVID-19 protocols to ward off the pandemic transmission. Commander Southeastern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Jayantha Gamage, Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Rear Admiral Sajith Gamage, Commanding Officer SLNS ‘Jayasagara’, Commander Nilantha Kurukulasuriya, senior officers from the Navy Headquarters and Eastern Naval Command, officer under trainees of the Naval and Maritime Academy and a limited group of naval personnel were present on this occasion.