by PK Balachandran
COLOMBO: India is to sell two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) to Lanka in 2017, Lankan naval spokesman Capt.Akram Alavi told Express here on Thursday.
“The first will be delivered in February 2017 and the second at the end of that year. Both vessels are being constructed at the Goa Shipyard,” Capt.Alavi said.
These will be the first brand new OPVs to join the Lankan navy.
In 2017, the Lankan Coast Guard will be getting two Japanese vessels as part of the Japanese government’s efforts to strengthen maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.
Daily Mirror has quoted Lankan navy chief Vice Adm.Ravindra Wijegunaratne as saying that by 2025, the Lankan navy will have acquired five more OPVs.
The Lankan navy has, at present, three OPVs. “SLNS Sayura, which is the navy’s flagship, was acquired from India on a soft loan. SLNS Sagara was a gift from India. The third OPV, SLNS Samudura, is a second hand one bought from the US,” Capt.Alavi said.
It was thanks to SLNS Sayura, that the Lankan navy was able destroy eight Floating Warehouses of the LTTE in international waters during Eelam War IV thus preventing the LTTE from getting vital arms replenishments.
As per Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ plans, indicated at the last Galle Naval Dialogue, Lanka will have a small Blue Water navy not only to safeguard its coast but to take part in international maritime security operations in far flung areas in the Indian Ocean. Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean, just north of the international East-West sea trade route, casts a great responsibility on it to keep the route safe from pirates, smugglers and aggressive states seeking domination.
It is because of Lanka’s strategic location that 25 naval ships of various countries have recently called at Colombo. Three Chinese naval vessels were at the harbor from January 17 to 21. On January 21 came the Indian Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya. The British destroyer HMS Defender will dock in Colombo on January 30 and six vessels from other navies are due in February. Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has described these visits as a “blessing”.
Source: Defense News