Sri Lanka Navy's patriotic pageantry lights up 76th Independence Day celebrations

The 76th celebration of Sri Lanka's National Independence Day took place at Galle Face in Colombo on the morning of 04th February 2024. The central event, themed "Let's build a new country" was presided over by Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the visiting Prime Minister of Thailand, Hon. Srettha Thavisin graced the national ceremony as Guest of Honour. The distinguished ceremony, marked by a sense of national pride, was enhanced by the graceful participation of the Sri Lanka Navy.

Upon the President's arrival, he was accompanied to the main dais by the Chief of Defence Staff, Tri-Service Commanders, and the Acting Inspector General of Police. The Independence Day ceremony officially began with the President unfurling the National Flag. Following the established customs and traditions associated with the National Flag hoisting, the Navy's Communication branch ensured all ceremonial arrangements were in place for a dignified event. Alongside the flag-hoisting, the National Anthem was sung, and Jaya Mangala Gatha was recited to the accompaniment of music played by the Sri Lanka Navy's Oriental Orchestra.

The impressive smart parade showcased 57 naval officers and 889 sailors organized into 08 divisions. Additionally, 02 officers and 61 sailors represented the Sri Lanka Navy in the Mechanized Column. Commodore Buddhika Jayaweera, Director Naval Training, led the parade from the pilot vehicle, symbolizing the Sri Lanka Navy's presence.

Representing the naval fleet, the Offshore Patrol Vessels SLNS Gajabahu, SLNS Sayura and SLNS Samudura had been decked out and at anchorage off the Galle Face, to honour the 76th National Independence Day of Sri Lanka.

During the 76th Independence Day parade, Lieutenant Commander Moditha Abeykoon led the Naval Ensign, accompanied by officers holding the President’s Colours awarded to the Navy, Naval and Maritime Academy, Northern Naval Command, Eastern Naval Command, Afloat Command, 4th Fast Attack Flotilla and Volunteer Naval Force, along with Command Flags. The Navy Band provided a rhythmic beat of drums as they marched. Commander Vajira Bandara was in charge of the entire naval component during the event.

The initial naval division in the parade was led by Lieutenant Commander Sanka Peiris, who commanded the Naval Headquarters division. Following this, the Naval Fleet Command division, under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Sachindra Pathirana, followed suit.

Recognized as the formidable force of the Sri Lanka Navy, the 4th Fast Attack Flotilla (FAF 4) division, led by Lieutenant Commander Thilanka De Silva, showcased its prowess in the parade. During the parade, Lieutenant Commander Anushka Jayawardana led the Special Boat Squadron division. Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, the Commander of the Navy has served as the Commanding Officer of the prestigious Special Boat Squadron twice. Meanwhile, the parade continued with the participation of the Rapid Action Boat Squadron (RABS) division led by Lieutenant Commander Jayampathi Buddadasa. Following this, the Marine division of the Sri Lanka Navy, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Sundararaj Mahindaraj, took center stage.

The subsequent segment of the vibrant parade featured the Navy Women's division under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Udani Perera. The division of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard in the parade was under the command of Lieutenant Commander Udara Mallawarachchi.

Following the marching contingents, an elaborate military parade showcased the Sri Lanka Navy's Mechanized Column and various equipment as they moved along the Galle Face boulevard. Under the command of Commander Anjana Premarathna, the Mechanized Column featured primary weapons as well as locally manufactured Wave Rider Craft, Cedric Craft and a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) utilized by the Special Boat Squadron and Rapid Action Boat Squadron and special equipment used by the Diving Unit of the Sri Lanka Navy.

One notable feature of the 76th Independence Day celebration was the impressive parachute demonstration performed by the combined forces of the tri-services, STF and the Police. Soaring through the air, Captain Dharmasiri Herath, the Commanding Officer of the Special Boat Squadron (with 867 Jumps), successfully touched down at the Galle Face Green carrying the Naval Ensign.

The Navy's parachute team also included Commander Kamal Tissa Kumara (with 537 jumps), Master Chief Petty Officer LAAP Kumarasinghe (with 416 jumps), Fleet Chief Petty Officer WA Siriwardana (with 447 jumps) and Chief Petty Officer GCMK Geekiyanage (with 480 jumps).

The event was also dignified by the presence of members of Maha Sangha and religious dignitaries of other faiths, diplomatic corps, Prime Minister Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, ministers, Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda, State Minister of Defence Hon. Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, Secretary of Defence General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd), Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priantha Perera and President Navy Seva Vanitha Unit Mrs Mala Lamahewa, Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa, Acting Inspector General of Police Deshabandu Tennekoon, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Navy, senior military officers and distinguished invitees.