USS Courageous will increase SLN naval power by 75 percent, says Daya Sandagiri
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 30 March 2005, 08:30 GMT]
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri, said on Tuesday in Colombo that the inclusion of a 210 foot US Coastguard Vessel, USS Courageous, into the fleet of coastguard ship would greatly enhance‚ the deep sea operations of the Sri Lankan navy. "The new vessel will increase our naval power by 75 percent," Vice Admiral Sandagiri said on Wednesday while speaking at the ceremony to officially commission the USS Courageous, which is renamed as P-621 into the Sri Lankan naval fleet. The ship is manned by 89 sailors and 13 officers led by Captain S.S. Ranasinghe.
He has also thanked the US government to have considered Sri Lanka for the transfer of the vessel.
The USS Courageous, which was officially gifted to Sri Lanka by the Bush Administration during the tenure of the previous United National Front (UNF) government, started sailing from Norfolk Harbor in Virginia in the mid of February and reached Colombo Port on Tuesday following an extensive refurbishment program.
Although the vessel was offered to Sri Lankan navy as a gift, the Government of Sri Lanka had to spent Rs. Six million for a comprehensive overhaul and refurbishment process, which was carried out by the US marine engineers for the past one year.
Speaking to the media after the ceremony, US Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead has expressed his optimism that the new ship would be a major improvement for the Sri Lanka Navy.
"I hope the newly added ship will protect Sri Lanka and will help to bring peace to the country. After all it is what we all want," the State-managed Daily News has quoted the US Ambassador as saying.
The move by the Bush administration to present the USS Courageous, to Sri Lanka is widely seen as an ongoing exercise of bolstering the military ties between the two countries and would add deep-water surveillance and interdiction capability to the Sri Lanka Navy.
On February 20, a war ship of the US Seventh Fleet, USS Blue Ridge, arrived in Colombo harbour as a prelude to the arrival of the USS Courageous.
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