Sri Lanka Navy which is held in high esteem as the First Line of Defence of the Nation is marking the organization’s 72nd Anniversary today (09th December 2022). At the directives of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, a wide range of programs are being conducted in each Naval Command, giving prominence to time-honored naval customs and religious practices. In addition, capital ships of the Sri Lanka Navy will rest at anchor off the Galle Face Green today (09th December), giving the public an opportunity to have a glance at some of the major ships of the Sri Lanka Navy.
Coinciding with its anniversary, 222 officers as well as 3548 senior and junior sailors were promoted and advanced to their next higher ranks and rates on 09th December, at the recommendation of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne. Incidentally, 02 officers to the rank of Commodore, 56 to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, 58 to the rank of Lieutenant, 67 to the rank of Sub Lieutenant, 07 to the rank of Acting Sub Lieutenant and 32 to the rank of Midshipman were promoted, soaring the officers’ promotions to 222.
In the meantime, 692 personnel to the rate of Ordinary Seaman, 287 to the rate of Able Seaman, 951 to the rate of Leading Seaman, 1259 to the rate of Petty Officer, 330 to the rate of Chief Petty Officer, 18 to the rate of Fleet Chief Petty Officer and 11 to the rate of Master Chief Petty Officer, taking the tally of junior and senior sailor promotions to 3548.
From its small beginnings, the Navy has etched its name in the annals of Sri Lankan history by its courage and commitment for the protection of the nation. In the run-up to World War II, the Ceylon Volunteer Naval Force was established in the country by the Naval Volunteer Force Ordinance No. 01 of 1937. Subsequently, the Ceylon Volunteer Naval Force was renamed as the Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 01st October 1943.
In the 1950s, the Navy sought to usher in a new chapter by establishing a regular naval force. Accordingly, the Royal Ceylon Navy was established by the Navy Act No. 34 of 1950, on 09th December 1950. Since then, the Royal Ceylon Navy has been entrusted with the sole responsibility of protecting the country’s maritime space. Going from strength to strength, the Royal Ceylon Navy became the Sri Lanka Navy in 1972 when Sri Lanka became a republic.
In the early 1980s, with the commencement of terrorist activities in the country, the role of the navy, which had been of ceremonial nature until then, was transformed into a military role. Over the years, the Navy has been strengthened in terms of manpower and naval capability for the national task of eradicating terrorism from the country. As the First Line of Defence, the Sri Lanka Navy played a praiseworthy role during the humanitarian operation which finally brought down the curtains on terrorism which scourged the country for nearly 30 years.
The religious programs organized in view of the 72nd Anniversary of the Navy also took a center stage. Accordingly, the symbolic Kanchuka Puja and Flag Blessing ceremonies were held at the Ruwanwelisaya and Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura on 09th and 10th November. Similarly, the Joint Christian Commemoration & Thanksgiving Service was held at St. Lucia’s Cathedral in Kotahena on18th November.
In addition, an All-night Pirith Chanting and Alms Giving ceremonies were held at the Welisara Naval Complex on 25th and 26th November 2022. The special Puja of Hindu tradition was held at Sri Ponnambalawaneswarar Kovil, Colombo on 01st December and the special Islamic prayer session was held at the Jummah Mosque, Chatham Street on 02nd December. During these multi-religious spiritual events, merits were transferred on fallen naval war veterans and blessings were invoked on disabled naval war heroes, naval personnel both serving and retired, their family members and the Navy for its anniversary.
Meanwhile, a ‘Gilanpasa’ offering was held at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy on 08th December, with the attendance of Commander of the Navy. On 09th December, Commander of the Navy offered ‘Buddha Puja’ to the Sacred Tooth Relic and alms for the members of Maha Sangha have also been arranged at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Further, an Aloka Puja, arranged by the Naval Buddhist Association, will be held at Sandahiru Seya on 09th December.
Coinciding with the anniversary celebrations, the Navy has also organized blood donation campaigns and several Shramdhana Campaigns in Naval Commands. Incidentally, over 750 naval personnel donated blood at donation campaigns organized in the Northern and Eastern Naval Command. In addition Shramdhana programs were held in each Naval Command.
At the directives of Commander in Chief of Armed Forces and the President Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe and under the able leadership of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, the Navy is kept prepared in all respects to thwart any form of challenge emanating from the ocean. To this end, the Sri Lanka Navy has strengthened its fleet with high endurance sea units and trained its workforce to perform the Navy’s role and task diligently. In addition, the Navy is determined to perform the designated military, diplomatic and constabulary roles at all costs, in the best interests of the nation.