The vessel P 626 acquired by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) from the US government in a bid to increase the operational capability of the island’s sea arm, was commissioned as SLNS ‘Gajabahu’ on a ceremonial note by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Maithripala Sirisena at Colombo harbour today (06).
Religious dignitaries of all faiths including the Venerable Maha Sangha, State Minister of Defence, Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene, Secretaries to the Ministries including the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General (Rtd) Shantha Kottegoda, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ms. Alaina B. Teplitz, Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal, Sumangala Dias and a host of distinguished invitees graced this occasion.
Besides, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director General Operations, Rear Admiral Niraja Attygalle, Director Generals and Directors of the Navy, senior officers and sailors were also present on this ceremonial occasion.
Subsequently, the ceremony saw the Commanding Officer of the ship, Captain Rohitha Abeysinghe receiving the Commissioning Warrant from the President – the Chief Guest of the event. Thereupon, the Commanding Officer of the ship read out the Commissioning Warrant pledging his bounden duty in safeguarding the interests of the nation with full of respect and honour.
Afterwards, the President flanked by the Commander of the Navy, got onboard ship and unveiled the ship’s crest and name board among the blessings of religious dignitaries, to designate the new AOPV as Sri Lanka Navy Ship (SLNS) ‘Gajabahu’. Further, the President together with distinguished guests also went onto inspect the facilities and instrument fitted onboard this state-of-the-art vessel and he was briefed on the advanced technological instrument of the ship by Commander of the Navy.
This vessel which was previously owned by the US Coast Guard was officially handed over to the Sri Lanka Navy, during a ceremony held at Honolulu, Hawaii, United States on 27th August last year. The 115m long and 13m wide platform has the maximum speed of 28 knots as well. Besides, it has a displacement of 3302 tons and the ship is manned by 22 officers and 111 sailors, as its crew.
The ship is equipped with weapons, communications, aviation and other operating systems. Once the ship being joined the SLN fleet, she will take the place as the largest platform to be held by the SLN. The ship will be utilized for patrol and surveillance missions in the deep seas around Sri Lanka providing the maritime security and assistance to search and rescue operations.