Sri Lanka Navy proudly celebrates 73rd Anniversary

The Sri Lanka Navy, widely regarded as the First Line of the Nation's Defence, is celebrating its 73rd Anniversary today, 09th December 2023. Under the able guidance of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, various programmes, emphasizing longstanding naval traditions and religious practices, are being implemented across all Naval Commands in view of the anniversary celebrations.

Coinciding with the Navy Anniversary, 1877 senior and junior sailors were advanced to their next higher rates at the recommendation of Commander of the Navy, effective from 09th December. Thus, 489, 264, 625 and 499 senior and junior sailors were advanced to the Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman, Leading Seaman and Chief Petty Officer rates respectively.

Marking its 73rd Anniversary today, the Sri Lanka Navy carries a rich and storied legacy. In Ceylon, the decision was given effect with the Naval Volunteer Force Ordinance No. 01 of 1937 to establish Ceylon Volunteer Naval Force in 1939. Subsequently, the Ceylon Volunteer Naval Force was renamed as the Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 01st October 1943. In the 1950s, the Navy aimed to initiate a new era by formalizing a Regular Naval Force. This led to the creation of the Royal Ceylon Navy through the enactment of the Navy Act No. 34 of 1950, on 09th December 1950. Subsequently, the exclusive duty of safeguarding the nation's maritime boundaries was assigned to the Royal Ceylon Navy, which later evolved into the Sri Lanka Navy in 1972 following the country's transition to a republic, showcasing a continuous growth in its capabilities.

In the early 1980s, as terrorist activities emerged in the country, the Navy underwent a significant shift from its ceremonial function to a more prominent military role. Over time, the Navy has undergone significant enhancements in both personnel and naval capabilities, reinforcing its commitment to the national mission of eliminating terrorism within the country. In the crucial humanitarian operation that ultimately ended a nearly 30-year-long scourge of terrorism in the country, the Sri Lanka Navy commendably served as the First Line of Defence. Currently, the sole sea-going arm of the country is dedicated to Nurturing a Stable Ocean Region by extending its efforts to counter anti-drug operations, unconventional maritime challenges, and various illicit activities originating from sea routes. To this end, the Sri Lanka Navy maximizes its manpower and assets to effectively address these issues for a secure ocean environment.

The religious programmes organized in view of the 73rd Anniversary of the Navy also took a center stage. Accordingly, the symbolic Kanchuka Puja and Flag Blessing ceremonies were held at the Ruwanwelisaya and Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura on 16th and 17th November. Similarly, the Joint Christian Commemoration & Thanksgiving Service was held at All Saints' Church – Borella on 21st November.

In addition, an All-night Pirith Chanting and Alms Giving ceremonies were held at the Welisara Naval Complex on 24th and 25th November. The special Puja of Hindu tradition was held at Sri Ponnambalawaneswarar Kovil, Colombo on 01st December and the special Islamic prayer session was held at the Jummah Mosque, Chatham Street on 02nd December. During these multi-religious spiritual events, merits were transferred on fallen naval war veterans and blessings were invoked on disabled naval war heroes, naval personnel both serving and retired, their family members and the Navy for its anniversary.

Meanwhile, a ‘Gilanpasa’ offering was held at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy on 08th December. On 09th December, ‘Buddha Puja’ to the Sacred Tooth Relic and alms for the members of Maha Sangha have also been arranged at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Further, an Aloka Puja, arranged by the Naval Buddhist Association, will be held at Sandahiru Seya on 09th December.

Coinciding with the anniversary celebrations, the Navy has also organized blood donation campaigns in Northern, Eastern, and North Central Naval Commands. Incidentally, a large group of naval personnel generously contributed to the noble cause of saving lives through blood donation.

Under the rightful guidance of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and President, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Ministry of Defence, the Sri Lanka Navy, led by Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, remains vigilant and fully prepared to overcome any maritime challenge. In line with this commitment, the Navy has bolstered its fleet with resilient sea units and ensured the proficient training of its personnel to carry out their roles with diligence. Furthermore, the Navy is resolute in fulfilling its military, diplomatic, and constabulary duties, prioritizing the nation's best interests at all costs.