In continuation of Indian Navy’s endeavour to build ‘Bridges of Friendship’, four ships of the Western Fleet of Indian Navy under the charge of Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet (FOCWF), Rear Admiral Sameer Saxena visited Sri Lanka from 09-12 March 2022. The indigenous guided missile frigate BRAHMAPUTRA along with frigate TALWAR entered Hambantota port while advanced indigenous destroyer INS CHENNAI and frigate TEG entered Colombo harbour. The ships were warmly welcomed in both these places by the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions.
High Commissioner of India , Gopal Baglay hosted a reception onboard INS Chennai on 10 March 2022. Hon’ble Foreign Minister Prof G.L Peiris represented H.E Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President and Defence Minister of Sri Lanka at the event. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeyawardena also graced the occasion.
Welcoming the guests, High Commissioner Gopal Baglay highlighted the importance of oceans and how they bind the two countries to achieve common prosperity, security and also health in the present scenario. He reiterated the commitment of Government of India to stand shoulder to shoulder with Sri Lanka in addressing these common challenges. He also highlighted that Colombo Security Conclave is a significant initiative in this field and cooperation through the forum needs to be developed further. In his remarks, FOCWF highlighted the historic bonds of friendship between the two navies and emphasised the need for cooperative efforts to ensure Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
Foreign Minister Prof G.L Peiris who spoke on the occasion lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy. He appreciated the fact that Finance Minister of India had assured priority to Sri Lanka in the sphere of economic cooperation. Prof. Peiris also called for deeper people to people ties, development of ports and harbours, cooperation in oil and gas, tourism and increased investments from India. He further emphasised that the future of the world lies in Indo- Pacific and BIMSTEC region and thus, through platforms like IORA and Indian Ocean Conference Sri Lanka strives to establish a ‘Rule Based Order’ for continued peace in the region. He also welcomed more such visits by the Indian Navy in future.
On 10-11 March, FOCWF made courtesy calls on the Foreign Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff & Commander of Sri Lanka Army and Commander of Sri Lanka Navy. Further, the visiting ships carried out various mutually beneficial training activities with the Sri Lanka Navy and other social engagements.
The visit of the Western Fleet to Sri Lanka strengthens the close bonds of friendship between the two navies and helped achieve greater interoperability through the conduct of various activities in harbour and at sea as part of Maritime Partnership Exercise including Flying Operations, replenishment approaches and tactical manoeuvres.