This is the first visit by an Australian Border Force vessel to Sri Lanka and recognises our long-standing record of close cooperation to stamp out people smuggling across the region, the Australian Border Force said.
The Ocean Shield is just one of Australia’s extensive fleet of offshore vessels that conduct far-reaching patrols and responds to illegal activities including people smuggling, illegal fishing and transnational crime.
Commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, Air Vice-Marshal Stephen Osborne is accompanying Ocean Shield during the visit and said Australia is very grateful for Sri Lanka’s on-going support to combat people smuggling.
“Over recent years we have worked together to save many lives at sea and prevented vulnerable people being ripped off by people smugglers,” Air Vice-Marshal Osborne said.
“We value our strong relationship with Sri Lanka and this visit provides an important opportunity to advance our cooperation and share expertise on a wide range of maritime concerns.”
Air Vice-Marshal Osborne said it has now been more than 1000 days since the last people smuggling boat made it to Australia.
“Australia’s borders are now stronger than ever, and our tough border protection policies are here to stay. Australia now operates the largest and most capable maritime surveillance and response fleet Australia has ever deployed,” he said.
He said that anyone who attempts to reach Australia illegally by boat will be detected, intercepted and turned back.
“There is a right way and a wrong way to travel to Australia. I encourage anyone who is thinking of getting on a people smuggling boat – do not put your life at risk or waste your money. Settlement in Australia will never be an option for anyone who attempts to travel to Australia illegally by boat. There are no exceptions,” Air Vice-Marshal Osborne said.