Sri Lanka Navy, the country’s First Line of Defence celebrates its 70th Anniversary today (09). As part of the anniversary celebrations, a wide range of events are being held in every naval command , giving prominence to time-honoured naval traditions and religious events, under the directives and guidance of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne.
On the sidelines of these celebrations, capital ships of the Sri Lanka Navy will be brought to the anchorage off the Galle Face Green, from 09th to 13th December, with a view to reach the general public with better awareness of the Navy. The central theme of this exhibition is ‘Know Your Navy’ and ‘This is Your Navy’.
Looking back at the glowing history of Sri Lanka's evolution, it reveals that Sri Lanka has had a progressively developed naval force that has been able to withstand foreign influences since the third century BC. History shows that by the 12th century, the islanders’ naval power had grown to the point where it could even challenge neighboring nations. Thus, the seafaring force of the present day can truly rejoice in the legacy left behind by its lineage.
With the outbreak of World War II, the Ceylon Volunteer Naval Force, established by the Volunteer Navy Ordinance No. 1 of 1937, marked the beginning of a navy for the country, as a result of its focus on strengthening maritime security in every British colony. The Navy Act No. 34 of 1950 marked the beginning of the Regular Naval Force of Sri Lanka with the establishment of the Royal Ceylon Navy on 09th December 1950. The Royal Ceylon Navy, which has grown steadily since then, became the Sri Lanka Navy on 22nd May 1972 when the country became a republic.
In the backdrop of terrorist activities started by the LTTE in early 1980s, the Navy, which had hitherto been in charge of ceremonial duties, turned into full-fledged operations.
The Navy, which helped the eradication of terrorism on 18th May 2009 in a humanitarian operation, bringing an end to the destructive war, is now shouldering the post-war mission of nation building. Further, the responsibility of provision of security for ports as well as sea lanes of communication, protection of marine resources and marine ecosystems in the Exclusive Economic Zone, which is seven times of the landmass of Sri Lanka, enforcement of maritime law in island’s as well as international waters, creation of better the marine environment to meet national needs in line with foreign policy and national security objectives lies with nothing but Sri Lanka Navy. In doing so the three major roles envisaged for the Sri Lanka Navy expand into the spheres of Military, Diplomatic and Constabulary.
Even if there is no visible enemy at present, the Navy, popularly known as the First Line of Defence, is geared by all means to curb wide-ranging nefarious acts such as piracy, maritime terrorism, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, human trafficking, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, and marine pollution that have a major impact on maritime security and its healthy environment. Thereby the sea-going arm of the nation conducts regular day and night patrols at maritime boundaries to protect the island's first territorial frontiers, utilizing the Navy's resources and manpower with maximum productivity and efficiency.