First ever Trans-Atlantic Crossing and mid-sea refueling by a Sri Lankan Navy Ship

Sri Lankan Navy ship P-621 which set sail from Norfolk, Virginia in the United States on February 19th, reached the Port of Colombo around 9.00 AM local time on Wednesday, March 29th. This 39 day voyage was the longest ever undertaken by a Sri Lankan Navy vessel and was the first ever Trans-Atlantic crossing. The ship was received by Foreign Secretary Mr. H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri, US Ambassador HE Jeffrey Lunstead, US Defence Attaché Lt Col Richard Girven, Officers from the Sri Lanka Navy and families of the crew. The Sri Lanka Navy band was in attendance.

Acquired from the US Coast Guard on the Excess Defence Articles (EDA) scheme, the ship underwent extensive refurbishment and reactivation in Norfolk. The crew numbering 83 personnel also underwent extensive training with the US Coast Guard on similar vessels both in the east and the west coasts of the US.

The ship called on Puerto Rico, Canary Island, and Port Said in Egypt and Salalah in Oman before reaching Colombo. P 621 carried out a co-operative sail with USS Mount Baker, (from the US Fleet Forces Command) from Puerto Rico to the Straits of Gibraltar, which was a significant event that portrayed the support and the comradeship of the US Armed Forces. Again, for the first time in the history of the Sri Lanka Navy the ship carried out two mid-sea re-fuelling operations with USS Mount Baker.

The ship is due to be commissioned soon in Colombo where it will be renamed according to the traditions of the Sri Lanka Navy. It will be deployed along with a sister vessel for deep-sea interdiction operations.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

28 March 2005

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