The Ministry of Defence says the recently signed maritime security pacts with the government of India will neither result in hindrance nor threat to Sri Lanka’s national security, as misinterpreted by several print and electronic media.
The Ministry added the receipt of Floating Dock Facility from India at no cost has been projected to reduce the annual outlay of Rs.600 million for outsourced docking repairs and this proposal has been in the pipeline since year 2015. The Ministry with regards to the reconnaissance aircraft said, the Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft was deployed for maritime surveillance, search and rescue operations and to deliver information to various required platforms.
It said the unavailability of this capability was the motive for bilateral dialogues between India and Sri Lanka during the last couple of years and it was agreed upon to provide one Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft to Sri Lanka free of charge. Accordingly the statement revealed, during the period earmarked for the manufacturing process of the aircraft, India will lend a similar aircraft which will be piloted by Sri Lankan Air Force pilots.
The Ministry added an Indian training team will also arrive and stay in the island until the SLAF gains required expertise. The Ministry stated the SLAF aircrew will receive an added qualification enabling the country to further strengthen its maritime security while cutting a large cost as a result of the pacts.
It added with regard to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Colombo, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for the proposal to establish MRCC with a USD 6 Million grant from the Government of India. The statement said the establishment of MRCC was highly essential to instantly respond to the search and rescue services of vessels in distress operating in the region and ensure safety of vessels in compliance to various international conventions.
It added the Sri Lanka Navy was the authority responsible for conducting Maritime Search and Rescue operations for commercial ships around the island’s region. The Ministry of Defence stated the Merchant Shipping Secretariat which is the official representative of the International Maritime Organization has entrusted the Maritime Search and Rescue operations for commercial ships to the navy.
It claimed the MRCC covers the search and rescue responsibility for approximately 27 times of the landmass of Sri Lanka. The Cabinet memorandum for this project was initially submitted in the year 2017 by the Ministry of Defence.
The release said that prior to the signing three pacts the Ministry of Defence has followed the standard criteria and procedures while channelling it through the other mandatory state establishments including the Attorney General’s Department. The Defence Ministry claimed apart from economic and security gains embedded with infrastructure and personnel development, there won’t be any kind of risk to the national security of Sri Lanka being a sovereign nation.