Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne attended the 24th International Seapower Symposium (ISS) organized by the U.S. Navy, at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island from 14th to 17th September 2021.

Commenced in 1969 in Newport, United States for the first time, the ISS has rolled out to conduct its 24th edition in 2021 under the theme of ‘Strength in Unity’. Secretary of the US Navy, Honorable Carlos Del Toro graced this year’s event as the Chief Guest and the conference was attended by heads of Navy and Coast Guard, representing more than 100 countries.

The main focus of the International Seapower Symposium was to create a forum for heads of navies across the world to concurrently deliberate on common issues to enhance maritime security and collaborative operations. This platform will also make way for many successful efforts to enhance cooperation in countering piracy, providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, coordinating search and rescue at sea, planning and conducting coalition military operations and joint law enforcement to counter arms, drug and human trafficking as well as fisheries and pollution violations.

On the sidelines of the symposium, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne called on United States Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael M Gilday. Meanwhile, United States Chief of Naval Operations expressed his thanks to Commander of the Navy for attending this year’s conference, accepting his invitation. On this occasion, he also reiterated the importance of meeting heads of navies, coast guards and other senior naval leaders from more than 100 nations to discuss cooperative strategies for maritime security.

Apart from that, Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne also attended several bilateral meetings held in parallel with the main event. During the meeting with Commandant of the Coast Guard, United States, Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commander of the Navy thanked him with regard to the transferring of 3rd USCG Cutter to Sri Lanka Navy, free of cost and admired the performances of previously handed over two ships which are already in SLN fleet. The transferring of the 3rd USCG Cutter is currently in its final stage. Moreover, Commandant of the Coast Guard United States heaped praise on Commander of the Navy with regard to the recent drug bust mid sea, with the involvement of SLNS Samudura (Ex USCG Courageous). They also deliberated on possible avenues to help build capacity of Sri Lanka Navy as well as Sri Lanka Coast Guard.

Meanwhile, calling on Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Samuel J. Paparo, the two top brass led their discussion on making use of opportunities to enhance interoperability through fleet exercise that of CARAT 2021 as well as sharing of knowledge for mutual benefits.

The meeting between Commander of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Staff India, Admiral Karambir Singh mainly focused on the curbing of drug trafficking across the Indian Ocean. The two sides also exchanged views on the formation of a plan between the India, Sri Lanka and neighboring countries to carry out anti-drug operations in the Indian Ocean. Besides, the Indian Navy Chief also pledge his support with training facilities and expertise for capacity building in Sri Lanka Navy as well as for a Naval Air Arm. The Chief of Naval Staff India also extended an invitation to the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne to attend the ‘GOA Conclave’ Maritime Conference to be held by the Indian Navy in October.

In his bilateral meeting with the Chief of Naval Staff Pakistan, Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi, both navy chiefs discussed ways and means to support each other for mutually beneficial relationships. The Pakistan Navy continues to open training opportunities to Sri Lanka Navy personnel, especially in the spheres of non-regular courses as well. While reminiscing of his last visit to Sri Lanka, in the port of Trincomalee, Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi, also expressed his appreciation for the participation of the Sri Lanka Navy at the recent multilateral naval exercise organized by the Pakistan Navy.

Taking part in international maritime conferences of this calibre, attended by naval chiefs from regional and extra-regional states will produce many opportunities for the way forward of the Sri Lanka Navy, through enhanced mutual cooperation and international relations.