Pride of SLN fleet - P 627 commissioned as SLNS ‘Vijayabahu’

The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe commissioned the Offshore Patrol Vessel P 627, the recent inclusion to the fleet of Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), as SLNS ‘Vijayabahu’ at the East Container Terminal of the Port of Colombo on 22nd November 2022. At the invitation of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, this milestone event was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, H.E. Julie Chung, Governor of the North-Western Province Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda, Chief of Staff to the President and Senior Advisor to the President on National Security, Mr. Sagala Rathnayaka, Defence Secretary, General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd), Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, Inspector General of Police, CD Wickramarathne and a host of distinguished invitees.

Upon his arrival at the East Container Terminal, the President, as the Chief Guest, was received and ushered him to the main dais by Commander of the Navy. Thereupon, the President was accorded a Guard of Honour in precision with naval tradition and a few minutes later, the dignified ceremony saw the Chief Guest of the event handing over the Commissioning Warrant to the Commanding Officer of P 627, Captain Lanka Dissanayake. Accepting the Command of the ship, the Commanding Officer read out the Commissioning Warrant onboard the ship, pledging his allegiance to duty with full of respect and honour.

Next, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe unveiled the ship’s crest and name board amidst the blessings of religious dignitaries, to designate the ship as SLNS ‘Vijayabahu’. Subsequently, Commander of the Navy accompanied the President with the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Chief of Staff to the President and Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Defence Secretary for a visit onboard SLNS ‘Vijayabahu’. During the visit, the group of distinguished guests were briefed about the operational readiness, layout and performance of the ship by its Navigating Officer, Lieutenant Commander Dhanushka Jayasena.

Aiming to strengthen and develop partnerships to overcome common challenges in the maritime domain, U.S. Coast Guard has previously provided two ships - SLNS ‘Samudura’ (P 621) in 2005 and SLNS ‘Gajabahu’( P 626) in 2018 to SLN. As an extension of partnership ties that bring value to each other’s service, Vijayabahu was transferred as the third ship to be handed to SLN.

Sri Lanka Navy formally took delivery of the EX-United States Coast Guard Cutter, USCGC Douglas Munro, which is a Hamilton Class High Endurance Cutter’, at the U.S. Coast Guard Base Seattle of Washington in the United States on 26th October 2021. Following the acquisition, she was designated as P 627, attached to SLN fleet. Upon taking over of the ship, the initial crew underwent training and engaged in acquisition formalities, maintenance, scheduled repairs and installations to suit the operational needs of the Sri Lanka Navy. Soon after training and modernization work, P 627 began her home-bound journey on 03rd September 2022 from Seattle. Having covered a long sea voyage of about 10656 nautical miles (19734km) transiting the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the ship finally arrived in Colombo on 02nd November 2022.

As the First Line of Defence of the island nation, it is mandatory for the Navy to be equipped with ships having higher endurance and operational capabilities. As such, acquisition of high endurance vessels to the SLN fleet will enable the country to achieve its maritime security aspirations resourcefully. Sri Lanka inherits an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that is seven times larger than the landmass. In such a backdrop, the Navy is determined to deploy this vessel in wide-ranging operations that include conservation of marine resources in the region as well as search and rescue of naval and fishing communities in distress. Thereby, the Navy will be able to utilize SLNS ‘Vijayabahu’ efficiently in the future to achieve national aspirations, while making its waters safe and secure for all economic affairs.

The dignified evening was made more colourful by exhilarating performances presented by the Cultural Troupe of the Navy. Meanwhile, Commander of the Navy presented mementoes to the President and U.S. Ambassador marking the significance of this memorable occasion. The proceedings of the ceremony drew to a close after Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe posed for a group photograph with the crew of the newly commissioned ship.

Officials from the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, diplomatic staffs, former Commanders of the Navy, officials from the Ministry of Defence and other government agencies, President of the Navy Seva Vanitha Unit (NSVU), Mrs Chandima Ulugetenne, distinguished invitees, Chief of Staff of the Navy, Rear Admiral Priyantha Perera, Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Dammika Kumara, Commanders from other Naval Areas, Director Generals of the Navy, officers and sailors from the Navy Headquarters and Western Naval Command were also present on this occasion.