Maritime Security Pacts no threat to Sri Lanka – Defence Ministry

Ministry of Defence logo in Sri Lanka

The recently signed Maritime Security Pacts with the Indian Government will not result in a hindrance or threat to the national security of Sri Lanka, the Defence Ministry said yesterday (March 29).

The receipt of the Floating Dock Facility from the Indian Government at no cost has been projected to reduce the annual outlay of Rs.600 million for outsourced docking repairs and this proposal has been in the pipeline since 2015.

The Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft is basically deployed for maritime surveillance, search and rescue operations and to deliver information to various required platforms, the MoD statement said. The Ministry release said that the unavailability of this capability was the motive for bilateral dialogues between the Governments of India and Sri Lanka during the last couple of years and it was agreed upon to provide one Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft to Sri Lanka free.

“Accordingly, during the period earmarked for manufacturing process of the said aircraft, the Government of India will lend a similar aircraft which will be piloted by Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) pilots. An Indian training team will also arrive and stay in the country until the SLAF gains required expertise”.

SLAF aircrew will receive an added qualification enabling the country to further strengthen its maritime security while cutting a large cost as a result of the pacts. Further, with regard to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Colombo (MRCC), the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for the proposal to establish an MRCC with a US$ 6 Million grant from the Indian Government of India. The establishment of MRCC is highly essential to instantly respond to the search and rescue services of vessels in distress operating in the regionand ensure safety of vessels in compliance to various international conventions. Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) is the authority responsible for conducting Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operations for commercial ships around the country’s SAR region.

The Merchant Shipping Secretariat being the official representative of the International Maritime Organization has entrusted the Maritime Search and Rescue operations for commercial ships to SLN. MRCC covers the SAR responsibility for over 1,778,062.24 Km 2 which is approx. 27 times of the landmass of Sri Lanka. SLN will be the primary stakeholder of this project along with several other organizations. Cabinet memorandum for this project was initially submitted in the year 2017 by the Ministry of Defence.

Prior to the signing of aforementioned three pacts, the Defence Ministry has followed the standard criteria and procedures while channelling it through the other mandatory state establishments including the Attorney General’s Department.

Therefore, except economic and security gains embedded with infrastructure and personnel development, the Defence Ministry assures there won’t be any risk to the national security of Sri Lanka being a sovereign nation.