Boats for Indian navy undergo sea trials off Colombo


By Shamindra Ferdinando
Pic by Sujatha Jayaratne

Several Fast Interceptor Craft built by Solas Marine Lanka (Pvt.) limited, are undergoing sea trials in Sri Lankan waters before being handed over to the Indian navy.

The Dubai-based Solas Marine Services Group is in the process of building 80 FIC at a shipyard situated along the Hamilton Canal.

The company, formerly known as Blue Star Marine, secured the deal worth USD 46 million in late September 2011 beating bigger competitors. Sources said that India had called for proposals from boat builders soon after the conclusion of the conflict in Sri Lanka.

They speculated that the Indian navy would deploy FIC in an operational capacity similar to that of Sri Lanka’s elite Special Boat Squadron (SBS) as well as the Rapid Action Boat Squadron (RABS).

The SBS and the RASB played a vital role in depriving the LTTE access to the sea during the last few months of Eelam War IV.

According to the Indian media, Sagar Prahari Bal would be responsible for the deployment of FIC to protect the coast. The Indian navy set up SPB in the wake of the unprecedented sea borne Lashkar-e-Taiba raid on Mumbai which claimed the lives of about 180 persons in late November 2008. Investigations revealed the raiding party had exploited the weakness in coastal defences to reach Mumbai.

Responding to a query by The Island, sources said that the special boat project was continuing in spite of a slight delay in the delivery schedule.

The 16-metre-long craft, mounted with a range of weapons, would be manned by four or five personnel. Recently, Indian Defence Minister Anthony told Parliament that Sri Lanka was among its defence suppliers. Minister Anthony didn’t specify the equipment. An authoritative government official involved in procurement told The Island that Minister Anthony was referring to the transaction involving the private builder.

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