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Sri Lanka Commissions an Offshore Patrol Vessel built in India

President Maithripala Sirisena commissioned Sri Lankaís newest acquisition Indian built Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) SLNS Sayurala (P 623) at the Eastern Container Terminal of the Colombo port on August 2.

The vessel built by the state owned Goa shipyard costs 66 million US dollars and the Indian government has provided a credit line for the entire cost. Another vessel is under construction at the shipyard for the Sri Lankan navy.  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 Colombo's Eastern Container Terminal where the Indian built offshore patrol vessel was berthed.   Captain Amarosa read out the Commissioning Warrant. Thereafter the President with the Commander of the Navy by his side unveiled the shipís 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.

Sri Lanka plans to deploy 20 ships in the next seven years according to plans developed during the current Navy Chief Vice admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne's tenure authoritative navy sources told the sri lankan media. The proposed 20 vessel navy includes eight in service before the acquisition of the Indian offshore Patrol vessel.

The eight already in service are four OPVs (SLNS Sayura, SLNS Samudura, SLNS Sagara and SLNS Jayasagara) two Fast Missile Vessels (SLNS Suranimala and SLNS Nandimitra) besides 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.

India's Defence Production Secretary 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 didnít 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 media that the vessels were ordered on an Indian credit line made available to Sri Lanka at that time. Rajapaksa said India had offered to build OPVs for the navy. Each vessel is worth 66 million US dollars. SLNS Sayurala will go on its first mission later this month.

Sri Lankan Naval Chief Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne told the media 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 be protected at seas surrounding the country.

The navy chief said that AOPVs acquired from India are capable of accommodating 76 mm weapon though the Sri Lankan Navy could decide on an indigenous solution. He said that peacetime enhancement of offshore patrolling capacity was a necessity the country couldnít ignore.

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