The 75th National Independence Day of Sri Lanka was marked today, under the theme “Let’s Leap Towards the Centenary.” On the sidelines of the main ceremony, the Sri Lanka Navy honored the nation by according a 25-Gun Salute onboard Sri Lanka Naval Ship (SLNS) Gajabahu by 12.00 noon today (04th February 2023). The ceremonial tradition was executed at the directives of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, under the guidance of the Commanding Officer of the ship, Captain Indika De Silva.
According of a Gun Salute is considered as a mark of respect and the highest honor of 25-gun salute is only accorded to nothing but the nation. Going by this time-honored custom, Sri Lanka Navy today executed this military honor from SLNS Gajabahu to coincide with the 75th Independence Day celebrations and this rare occasion was televised/broadcast live through electronic media.
The custom stems from naval tradition in the 14th century, where warships were firing their cannons indicating they were effectively disarmed, to signify the lack of hostile intent towards the opposition. The same gesture has been reciprocated by cannon in coastal fortifications, to indicate the incoming ship that they are defused. It has become a custom over time.
Since the Royal Navy had 7 cannons on their ships early years, the gun salute had been conducted using 7 cannons. In 1948, the Royal Navy had fired a 15- Gun Salute at the Galle Face Green on the first Independence Day. In the following year, it had been executed on board HMCyS ‘Vijaya’ using one cannon. Commencing from 1948, the Navy has uninterruptedly performed this military honor at the Galle Face, on board ships, at Galle Buck Bay and Colombo Lighthouse.
On the 73rd Independence Day (2021), the Sri Lanka Navy honored the nation by according a 25-gun-salute on board SLNS Samudura and on the 74th Independence Day (2022) on board SLNS Gajabahu.
Traditionally, the main mast of a ship is dressed with maritime signal flags when a Gun Salute honor is presented. Accordingly, to deck out the vessel with flags for this ceremonial occasion, the main mast of SLNS Gajabahu had been dressed with signal flags denoting the phrase ‘25 Gun Salutes for the Nation’.
Bursts of gunfire presented from four 47mm guns fitted onboard SLNS Gajabahu rent the air in the city of Colombo, rekindling the national spirits. Meanwhile, the gunfire party comprised Commanding Officer SLNS Gajabahu Captain Indika De Silva, Executive Officer Commander Sumudu Dissanayake and Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Commander Milinda Yapa.