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US-donated SL Navy ship Vijayabahu commissioned

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President of Sri Lanka – Ranil Wickremesinghe, Secretary to the Minister of Defence – Kamal Gunaratne, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy – Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne and the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka – Julie Chung today (22) attended the commissioning of the Navy Ship Vijayabahu, formerly the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro, in Colombo Harbor.  The United States had donated the ship to Sri Lanka on October 26, 2021 as part of its continuing commitment to strengthen Sri Lanka’s ability to protect its maritime sovereignty and security.

Viewing the commissioning ceremony with Sri Lankan dignitaries, Ambassador Chung extended her appreciation to the ship’s officers and sailors for their skillful handling of the ship during the voyage.  She also expressed her thanks to the families and loved ones of the sailors for their sacrifice during the crew’s long absence. 

Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is seven times the size of its land area and maintains a Search and Rescue area nearly 25 times as large. The new vessel is capable of performing wide-ranging operations that include conservation of marine resources, search and rescue of naval and fishing vessels in distress and interdiction of drug and weapons smuggling among other crucial functions.

The Vijayabahu is the third ship donated by the United States to the Sri Lanka Navy, preceded by the Gajabahu in 2018 and the Samudura in 2004, which continue to patrol the nation’s waters.  The latest ship, a former Hamilton-class high-endurance 115-meter cutter, undertook one of the longest voyages in Sri Lankan naval history, embarking from Seattle, Washington, on September 3 and arriving in Colombo on November 2, 2022.

In its former U.S. role, the then-Douglas Munro enforced fishing regulations in Alaskan waters, seized trawlers engaged in illegal practices and interdicted 11.5 tons of cocaine off the coast of Mexico, one of the largest hauls in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.  After the 2004 tsunami, the cutter provided food and water to Indonesians and later seized a vessel overtaken by pirates off the Horn of Africa.  The ship also rescued survivors of numerous shipwrecks in dangerous and frigid waters off the Alaskan coast.

The transfer of the vessel is just one point in a long history of cooperation between Sri Lanka and the United States in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.  The U.S. is committed to supporting Sri Lanka’s efforts to protect its sea lanes, which are vital to alleviating the current economic crisis.

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President inaugurates 10th National Scout Jamboree (Pics)

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As the Chief Scout of Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickremesinghe inaugurated the 10th National Scout Jamboree in Trincomalee today (Feb. 21).

 The National Scout Jamboree is being held in Trincomalee with the participation of 11,500 scouts, from SL & 28 other countries.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Jamboree, President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized Sri Lanka’s potential for rapid development and security enhancement through unified action. 

He stressed the event’s inclusive nature, transcending caste and religious barriers, and highlighted the significance of national unity in achieving common goals. 

The President pledged support for expanding the Scout Association, recognizing its role in fostering responsible citizens. 

Additionally, he announced plans for collaboration between the Scout Association and the Ministry of Technology to harness cross-sector interactions for national progress.

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SL gets new Chief of Staff

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Ranil Wickremesinghe, the President and Commander – in – Chief of the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka appointed Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake as the Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Navy effective from 16th January 2024. Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera formally handed over the letter of appointment in this regard to Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake at the Navy Headquarters today (Feb. 21) and expressed his best wishes

Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake is a distinguished past pupil of St. Thomas’ College, Matale. He joined the Sri Lanka Navy in 1987 as an Officer Cadet of 17th intake, in the Executive branch. On successful completion of his basic training from the Naval and Maritime Academy, Trincomalee, he was commissioned as a Sub Lieutenant in 1989. The senior officer completed his Sub Lieutenant Technical Course at the Naval and Maritime Academy in 1992 and specialized in Marine Navigation from the Indian Navy in 1997. Advancing steadily in his professional journey, the senior officer reached the rank of Rear Admiral on 01st July 2021.

He followed his Staff Course at the prestigious US Naval War College in 2005 and obtained his Master’s Degree in Maritime Policy from the University of Wollongong, Australia in 2017. In addition, he followed the National Defence Course (NDC) in Military Science and Security Studies at the National Defence University of China and was conferred an MSc. Further, he followed the Regional Maritime Security Course at the Naval War College Goa, India in 2016.

In recognition of his noble service rendered to the motherland, Rear Admiral Rathnayake has been awarded Rana Wickrama Padakkama as well as Rana Sura Padakkama twice for his gallantry. Moreover, he has also been awarded the Uththama Sewa Padakkama (USP), for his unblemished character and devotion to the duty. Rear Admiral Rathnayake has been issued 04 Letters of Commendation by Commanders of the Navy for outstanding performance of the duty and exceptional contributions to the naval service.

Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake has had the privilege of commanding various Fast Attack Craft, Ships and Establishments in the Sri Lanka Navy. Among some of the other appointments he held; Commodore Sea Training and Principal Merchant Marine Training School, Director Naval Policy and Plan, Commander Southeastern Naval Area, Commander North Central Naval Area and Director General Operations stood prominent.

Prior to being appointed as Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Navy, he was discharging duties as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Navy Headquarters. Further, the senior officer is a talented sportsman in Squash and a level 1 coach and an international referee in Squash as well.

(Source: Sri Lanka Navy)

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SL to stop sending women overseas as housemaids

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The Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara has urged the management of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment and the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies to submit a set of proposals to completely stop sending Sri Lankan women overseas to work as housemaids.

He has said this yesterday (Feb. 20).

The Minister has emphasized the importance of halting the usual practice of sending women for overseas employment as domestic workers and sending them for foreign jobs in high paying skilled categories instead.

The Minister has said that the proposals should include views and suggestions of all stakeholders in the sector.

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