US to beef up SL’s maritime
Admiral Robert F. Willard
by Shamindra Ferdinando
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government expects
the Bush administration to further enhance Sri Lanka’s maritime
surveillance capability as part of US efforts to fight global
terrorism. This would include the required training provided by
the US apart from small scale joint exercises undertaken with
the navy, particularly its Special Boat Squadron (SBS), an elite
An authoritative governmental spokesman
yesterday said that the recently concluded three-day visit to
Colombo by Admiral Robert F. Willard, the chief of the US
Pacific Fleet, underlined the growing US-Lanka relationship and
the US commitment to support Sri Lanka’s battle against LTTE
which listed as a terrorist organization by both the US and the
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official
asserted that the US wouldn’t ignore Sri Lanka’s call for
assistance to curb both arms smuggling and human trafficking.
"In fact, we are fully confident the US wouldn’t
turn its back on us as the war against the LTTE enters a
decisive stage," he said.
He expressed confidence that despite efforts to
internationally isolate the Sri Lankan government on the ‘human
rights issue’ the world community wouldn’t let Sri Lanka down.
The US delegation, during a visit to Trincomalee
was briefed of the ongoing operations undertaken by the SLN,
particularly its battle against suicide attacks.
Another official said that the October 2000
attack off Yemen on guided-missile destroyer USS Cole killing 17
personnel, wounding 39 others and leaving extensive damages had
highlighted the serious threat posed by terrorists even on the
world’s solitary superpower.
The destroyer was refueling in the port city of
Aden when two suicide bombers crashed their explosives laden
small boat into the vessel. USS Cole was lifted aboard the
Norwegian heavy transport ship M/V Blue Marlin and towed back to
the United States.
During Friday’s banquet at Navy Headquarters,
Admiral Willard congratulated the SLN for operations carried out
on the high seas last September and October which caused the
destruction of four LTTE ships. The US Pacific Command had
monitored the action throughout the operations and there had
been a lot of excitement, the US official had acknowledged.
The banquet followed a meeting Admiral Willard
had with Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, at
SLN headquarters where discussions centered on bilateral
The US and Sri Lanka agreed that maritime
surveillance and security would be of critical importance in the
battle against the LTTE, the Sri Lankan military said.
Destruction of eight LTTE ships carrying arms, ammunition and at
least three fixed wing aircraft on the high seas (from September
2006 to October 2007) had brought the LTTE under immense
pressure, they said.
The success of the ongoing multi-pronged assault
on the remaining LTTE strongholds in the Vanni would entirely
depend on their capability to prevent fresh stocks of ammunition
from coming in, particularly through the Gulf of Mannar supply
route, they said. They said that the US recently donated
maritime surveillance equipment worth USD 11 million and this
would be of critical importance to this effort.