New Navy Chief stresses need to sustain capabilities


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Having received three-star rank of Vice Admiral, Jayantha Perera signs the first document in his capacity as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy. Navy chief’s wife, Shalika and twin daughters, Ranithri and Ranali look on

(Pic by Sujatha Jayaratne)

Having succeeded Admiral J.S.K. Colombage as the 19th Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral (VA) Jayantha Perera, yesterday reiterated the need to further strengthen the fleet to meet post-war security needs.

Addressing the media at the navy headquarters, VA Perera said that the need to sustain capabilities remained high though Sri Lanka wasn’t seeking to wage war. Perera is the fourth to command the navy since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009.

The new Navy Commander said that he was proud to take over the command of the 58,000 strong service after having held a series of command appointments in Colombo and key bases. Having joined the navy on August 23, 1978, Perera underwent basic training at the naval and maritime academy in Trincomalee before given an opportunity to follow several overseas courses in his over 35 year service.

He said that Nigeria was among the countries keen to learn from Sri Lanka’s experience in fighting terrorism.

Referring to a recent visit to Nigeria undertaken by a combined security forces delegation headed by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, VA Perera said that Pakistan was also interested in gaining from our experience. The then Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Perera had been a member of the delegation which visited Nigeria.

Recollecting his tenure as the navy media spokesman during the infamous CFA with the LTTE, the navy Chief said that the media played an important role at that time. Perera managed the media during the then Navy Chief Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri’s tenure (January 2001 to Sept 2005). VA Perera said that a section of the media had backed the military during that very difficult period. The navy commander recalled being pressed by international news agencies covering CFA related incidents.

The then UNF government on a number of occasions accused the navy of sabotaging the CFA. Regardless of the CFA, the navy sunk two LTTE ships off Mullaitivu in 2003. VA Perera asserted that the media had a vital role to play, while faulting a section of the press for their coverage of recent ethnic strife at Alutgama and Beruwela.

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