Offshore Patrol Vessel P 627 – the most recent addition to Sri Lanka Navy fleet arrives at Port of Colombo
The Offshore Patrol Vessel P 627, acquired by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) from the United States Coast Guard arrived at the Port of Colombo yesterday morning (November 02). The ship began her home-bound journey from the Port of Seattle on 03rd September 2022 and arrived in Colombo after about 10656 nautical miles (19734 km) of sea passage.
At the invitation of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, the State Minister of Defence, Hon. Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, H.E. Julie Chung, Defence Secretary, General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd), Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana and a host of distinguished guests were present on the occasion to welcome the ship.
Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) formally took delivery of the EX-United States Coast Guard Cutter, USCGC Douglas Munro, provided by the United States (U.S.) Coast Guard to SLN, at the U.S. Coast Guard Base Seattle of Washington in the United States on 26th October 2021. Following the acquisition, she was designated as P 627, attached to the SLN fleet.
Aiming to strengthen and develop partnerships to overcome common challenges in the maritime domain, U.S. Coast Guard has previously provided two ships – SLNS ‘Samudura’ (P 621) in 2005 and SLNS ‘Gajabahu’( P 626) in 2018 to SLN and they are playing a prominent role, keeping the island waters safe and secure. As an extension of partnership ties that bring value to each other’s service, Ex-USCGC Douglas Munro was transferred as the third ship to be handed to SLN.
P 627, the second ‘Hamilton Class High Endurance Cutter’, received by SLN, measures 115m in length and capable of reaching the maximum speed of 29 knots with 14000 nautical miles of endurance at cruising speed. Further, she has been designed for 187 crew members and is equipped with modern weapons and machinery that suit SLN’s operational requirements. During her stint with the U.S. Coast Guard the ship has rendered an exceptional service by curbing illegal fishing, illegal immigration and seizure of a large quantity of narcotics in U.S. waters.
Upon taking over of the ship, the initial crew of about 130 naval personnel under the supervision of the Commanding Officer designate of P 627, underwent training and engaged in acquisition formalities, maintenance, scheduled repairs and installations to suit the operational needs of the Sri Lanka Navy, for about 10 months. Soon after training and modernization work, P 627 began her home-bound journey on 03rd September 2022.
Thus, the ship’s two-month-long home journey from the Port of Seattle, across the Pacific and Indian oceans, came to an end with her arrival at the Port of Colombo on 02nd November 2022. The journey is recorded as the longest-ever sea voyage a naval vessel has ever sailed in SLN history. During her long sea passage from Seattle to Colombo, the ship made port calls at Honolulu in Hawaii, Apra in Guam, United States, Manila in Philippine and Changi Naval Harbour in Singapore for replenishment and services.
Upon the arrival at the Port of Colombo, the Commanding Officer designate of P 627, Captain Lanka Dissanayake reported to the Commander of the Navy, in compliance with naval tradition. Thereupon, Commander of the Navy accompanied the Hon. State Minister of Defence and distinguished guests to the ship for review. After exchange of pleasantries, Commanding Officer of P 627 presented mementoes to the distinguished invitees aboard the ship.
Sri Lanka inherits an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that is seven times larger than the landmass. In such a backdrop, the Navy is determined to deploy this vessel in wide-ranging operations that include conservation of marine resources in the region as well as search and rescue of naval and fishing communities in distress. Thereby, the Navy will be able to utilise this vessel efficiently in the future to achieve national aspirations, while making safe and secure seas for all economic affairs.
As the First Line of Defence of the island nation, it is mandatory for the Navy to be equipped with ships having higher endurance and operational capabilities. As such, acquisition of high endurance vessels to the SLN fleet will enable the country to achieve its maritime security aspirations resourcefully.
The occasion was also attended by state officials, U.S. Embassy officials, Chief of Staff of the Navy, Rear Admiral Priyantha Perera, Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Dammika Kumara, Area Authorities, Director Generals, senior officers from the Navy Headquarters and Western Naval Command and family members of the crew of P 627.