P 621 Leaves Norfolk on Historic Voyage

The P 621 leaving Norfolk Harbour on the Historic Voyage

The latest ship acquired by the Sri Lanka Navy from the United States Coast Guard left the shores of US on Saturday after an elaborate but simple ceremony attended by a host of officials from the US administration and the Armed Forces.

The ceremony was conducted at the US Naval Amphibious Base at Little Creek in Virginia, Norfolk where the ship was birthed, commencing with a multi religious blessing ceremony. Ven Maharagama Dhammasiri, Chief Incumbent of the Washington Buddhist Vihara and Ven Katugasthota Banthe Uparatana, Chief Incumbent of the Wheaton Budhist Vihara conducted the Buddhist rites whilst chaplains from the US Navy conducted the Christian and Islamic religious observances. Hindu religious blessings were conducted by Reverand Shastri Gi, Chief Prelate of the Hampton Roads Hindu Temple in Norfolk.

Ambassador Devinda R Subasinghe flanked by Rear Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda (R) and
Defence Attaché Brig Rohan Jayasinghe in front of the P62

Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US speaking at the ceremony mentioned that this was a historic first acquisition from the US and thanked the US authorities for their magnanimous gesture of considering Sri Lanka for transferring this ship on the Excess Defence Articles (EDA) scheme. He stated that the military to military and the government to government relationship has grown significantly between the two countries during recent times and would continue to grow in the future. Coincidentally, he stated that the sailing away of the ship, after a comprehensive refurbishment programme is synchronizing with the arrival of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to Sri Lanka. He wished the Captain of the ship and its crew all the very best in this longest voyage ever undertaken by a Sri Lankan Navy vessel.

Commander US 2nd Fleet, Vice Admiral Mark P. Fitzgerald, who was the senior most US military representative to grace the occasion stated that he was extremely impressed with the professionalism, conduct and the spirit of the officers and crew of the P 621 and expressed that the friendships developed during the past months will certainly augur well for both navies in the future. He wished the Captain and the crew fair winds and happy tidings.

The Ambassador and Commander US 2nd Fleet Vice Admiral Mark P. Fitzgerald with the Invitees
and the Ships Crew Prior to the Sailing Away

Captain Sirimevan Ranasinghe, skipper of the vessel gave the vote of thanks. Rear Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, representing the Commander of the Navy, handed over the sailing orders to Capt Ranasinghe in front of the ship’s company.

The ship which was “dressed” for the occasion, left the docks in an inspiring and touching manner with all officers and sailors lining the deck.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

21 February 2005


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