US-donated Sri Lankan Navy ship Vijayabahu, which was formerly the US Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro, has been commissioned in Colombo Harbour.
The commissioning event was attended by Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Secretary to the Minister of Defense Kamal Gunaratne, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne and the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung.
This ship was donated by the US to Sri Lanka on 26 October 2021 as part of its commitment to bolster the island nation’s capability to safeguard its maritime sovereignty and security.
Given that Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is seven times the size of its land area and it maintains a search and rescue area that is almost 25 times as large, the new vessel will help the country in performing various operations.
Among the critical operations include conservation of marine resources, undertaking search and rescue mission of naval and fishing vessels in distress and interdiction of drug and weapons smuggling.
This is the third ship to be donated by the US to the Sri Lanka Navy.
The US had donated Gajabahu vessel in 2018 and Samudura in 2004.
These vessels continue to patrol the island nation’s waters.
A former Hamilton-class high-endurance 115m cutter, Vijayabahu had undertaken one of the longest voyages in the Sri Lankan naval history. It started from Seattle, Washington on 3 September 2022 and reached Colombo on 2 November.
In its previous US role, the ship, as Douglas Munro, helped in enforcing fishing regulations in Alaskan waters, seized trawlers embroiled in illegal practices and interdicted 11.5 tonnes of drugs off the coast of Mexico.
Following the 2004 tsunami, the vessel delivered food and water to Indonesians. It also seized a vessel that was overtaken by pirates off the Horn of Africa.
The then Douglas Munro also rescued survivors of several shipwrecks in dangerous waters off the Alaskan coast.
This vessel transfer is part of the cooperation between Sri Lanka and the US in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.