The vessel P 626 acquired by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) from the US Government in a bid to increase the operational capability of the island’s sea arm, was commissioned as SLNS ‘Gajabahu’ during a ceremonial note by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Maithripala Sirisena at Colombo harbour last evening.
Religious dignitaries of all faiths including the Venerable Maha Sangha, State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, Secretaries to the Ministries including the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General (Rtd) Shantha Kottegoda, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina B. Teplitz, Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal, Sumangala Dias and a host of distinguished invitees graced this occasion.
The ceremony saw the Commanding Officer of the ship, Captain Rohitha Abeysinghe receiving the Commissioning Warrant from the President. The Commanding Officer of the ship later read out the Commissioning Warrant pledging his bounden duty in safeguarding the interests of the nation with full of respect and honour.
The President flanked by the Commander of the Navy unveiled the ship’s crest and name board to designate the new AOPV as Sri Lanka Navy Ship (SLNS) ‘Gajabahu’. The President together and other guests also inspected the facilities and instrument fitted onboard the state-of-the-art vessel and he was briefed on the advanced technological instruments of the ship by Commander of the Navy.
This vessel which was previously owned by the US Coast Guard was officially handed over to the Sri Lanka Navy during a ceremony held in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States.
The ship is equipped with weapons, communications, aviation and other operating systems. Once the ship joins the SLN fleet she will take the place as the largest platform to be held by the SLN. The ship will be utilized for patrol and surveillance missions in the deep seas around Sri Lanka providing maritime security and assistance to search and rescue operations.