Indian Naval Ship INS Sarvekshak progressed 807 miles of Side Scan Sonar survey utilising integral sensors and two survey boats in adverse weather conditions, which could have otherwise been delayed to post Monsoon in October due to rough seas. INS Sarvekshak was deployed to conduct a survey in the vicinity of the ill-fated MV X-Press Pearl. The ship’s team worked overnight to process gigabytes of data collected during the day, to meet the timelines. Post the survey, the ship identified 54 underwater debris and also one ship-wreck. The survey data would be invaluable in issuing advisories to the mariners and fishermen which would later assist in the removal of debris by the Salvior to achieve safety of navigation.
The Hydrographic Survey Ship of Indian Navy, ‘INS Sarvekshak’, entered Colombo after successful completion of survey in three areas off Colombo. It was welcomed at the terminal by Colombo Commander of Western Naval Area RAdm Upul De Silva. INS Sarvekshak was immediately deployed on request of the Government of Sri Lanka on 23 June 2021 to conduct a survey in the vicinity of the ill-fated MV X-Press Pearl. The joint survey operation was coordinated between Indian Navy, Sri Lanka Navy and National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA).
A felicitation ceremony was organized on 02 July 2021 to mark the completion of the survey. The chief guest at the ceremony was Hon. Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda. During the ceremony, High Commissioner of India H.E. Gopal Baglay handed over the Fairsheet of the survey to Hon’ble Minister.
Speaking at the ceremony, Hon’ble Minister thanked the Government of India and the Indian Navy in particular for their prompt response and acknowledged India’s vision of Safety and Growth for All In the Region (SAGAR) through this gesture. High Commissioner HE Gopal Baglay highlighted that India and Sri Lanka have cooperated on many occasions for mitigation of maritime disasters. He expressed happiness that as part of Op Sagar Aaraksha 2, he had the opportunity to personally see off the Indian Coast Guard ships and participate in the event to felicitate the survey effort undertaken by INS Sarveshak. He also expressed pride in India’s assistance in restoring the livelihood of the Sri Lankan fishermen along the western coast.
The ceremony was also attended by Hon. State Minister of Fisheries Kanchana Wijesekara, Mrs R.M.I. Rathnayaka Secretary of Ministry of Fisheries, Mr. Jayantha Chandrasoma –Secretary of State Ministry of Fisheries, Chairman Sri Lanka Port Control Capt. Nihal Keppetipola and A Navaratneraja, Chairman NARA amongst other dignitaries from the Department of Fisheries and NARA.
The continued assistance to Sri Lanka in the recent maritime incidents has showcased India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy through swift and timely support in mitigating various calamities in the Indian Ocean Region.