Sri Lanka to buy second Indian OPV

[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 September 2004, 08:51 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s navy is to buy a second Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) from India, press reports said Thursday, quoting newly-appointed Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri.

Talking to reporters after assuming charge as the new CDS, Vice Admiral Sandagiri, who is also the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, said the request for second OPV was placed when Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse visited India last month.

The large vessel is capable of a top speed of 21 knots, and takes a crew of 140, including 15 officers, reports said. It can also carry up to 80 troops.

''We are going to make use of the Indian Credit Line to purchase the second OPV, which will be a refurbished one,'' he said, adding that the Navy was not aiming for 'separate air wing' in near future.

''We have financial constraints in setting up a separate air wing for the Navy, although it could increase the capabilities of the force to a large extent. Therefore, we are not looking at anything of that sort right now,'' UNI quoted him as saying.

Sri Lankan Navy purchased a Sukhanya Class helipad OPV from India in early 2000 with the purpose of setting up an exclusive air wing for the Navy. Reports in the Sri Lankan press said the deal was worth US $20 million.

The vessel, commissioned later that year, has been renamed the SLNS Sayura.

However, the entire plan was shelved with the single engine helicopter yet to reach Sri Lanka from India, UNI reported.

At the same time, Sri Lanka also acquired two missile-equipped deep-sea patrol ships bought from Israel.

Describing the current visit by the Indian Naval Chief as ''a great occasion for the Sri Lankan navy'', Vice Admiral Sandagiri said that he had productive and positive discussions with his Indian counterpart.

''Our interaction and co-operation with the Indian Navy has been very cordial and productive even before the ceasefire agreement with LTTE was signed in February 2002,'' he added.


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