India constructing more Advance OPVs for Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday (Aug 2) afternoon commissioned Sri Lanka’s newest acquisition; Indian built Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) SLNS Sayurala (P 623) at the Eastern Container Terminal of the Colombo port.

The length and the width of the ship are 105.7m and 13.6m respectively. President Sirisena received a naval guard of honour on his arrival at the Eastern Container Terminal. Subsequently, the first Commanding Officer of the ship, Captain Nishantha Amarosa received the commissioning warrant from President Sirisena after the review of the guard of honour.Thereupon, Captain Amarosa read out the Commissioning Warrant. Thereafter the President with the Commander of the Navy by his side unveiled the ship’s crest and name board

In addition to SLNS Sayurala, Sri Lanka intends to acquire three more OPVs in accordance with SLN maritime strategy 2025.

Indian government owned Goa Shipyard Limited built the AOPV under an agreement signed in Feb 2014. Wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa signed the agreement on behalf of Sri Lanka.

Authoritative navy sources told The Island that according to plans developed during the current Navy Chief Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne’s tenure, Sri Lanka intended to deploy 20 ships by 2025. The proposed 20 vessel navy included eight in service before the acquisition of AOPV. The eight included four OPVs (SLNS Sayura, SLNS Samudura, SLNS Sagara and SLNS Jayasagara) two Fast Missile Vessels (SLNS Suranimala and SLNS Nandimitra) and two Fast Patrol Boats received from Australia. Twelve vessels expected to be acquired over the next couple of years comprises four OPVs, including the AOPV commissioned on Wednesday, two Fast Missile Vessels, two Frigates, two Fast Patrol Boats and two Corvettes.

Secretary, Defence Production India Ashok Kumar Gupta and Managing Director of the Goa Shipyard Limited retired Rear Admiral Shekhar Mital attended the event.

Flag Officer Commander in Chief Southern Naval Command-Indian Navy, Vice Admiral A.R. Karve was also present.

Goa Shipyard Limited is building a second AOPV ordered by Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka didn’t acquire brand new ships during the war that ended in May 2009. Sri Lanka will take delivery of a second vessel next year.

Former Defence Secretary Rajapaksa told The Island yesterday that the vessels were ordered on an Indian credit line made available to Sri Lanka at that time. Rajapaksa said that M.K. Narayanan who had been Indian Defence Advisor during 2005-2010 period offered to build OPVs for the navy. Each vessel is worth USD 66 mn.

SLNS Sayurala will go on its first mission later this month.

VA Wijegunaratne told The Island that their main concentration would be exclusive economic zone up to 200 nautical miles south of Sri Lanka into Indian Ocean. The navy chief said that a range of assets were required to protect seas surrounding the country.

The navy chief said that AOPVs were capable of accommodating 76 mm weapon though SLN could decide on what VA Wijegunaratne called an indigenous solution.

He said that peacetime enhancement of offshore patrolling capacity was a necessity the country couldn’t ignore.

By: ISLAND LANKA

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