Sri Lanka to take part in largest international maritime exercise

Sri Lanka is to take part in the largest international maritime exercise which will be held in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

In all, 26 countries are scheduled to take part in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) from June 27 to August 2, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. This is the first time Sri Lanka is participating in RIMPAC.

The US Navy announced that 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial RIMPAC being held June 27 to Aug. 2.

This would mark the first time Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Israel have joined the drills, the US Navy said.

Earlier, the United States rescinded its invitation to RIMPAC for China, which had participated in 2014 and 2016, bringing several ships and personnel.

Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters that the move was a first step in protesting China’s actions in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China has expanded those islands through dredging, then built infrastructure upon them, some of which is useful only for military operations.

“China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise,” Logan said in a statement. “We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea.”

The other countries participating in RIMPAC are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga and the United Kingdom. (Colombo Gazette)