Colombo, March 29 (newsin.asia): The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense today (March 29) clarified the media reports on the maritime security pacts signed with the Indian government for the receipt of Floating Dock Facility, Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft, and the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Colombo (MRCC).
In a statement, the ministry noted that the recently signed maritime security pacts with India will neither result in hindrance nor threat to the national security of Sri Lanka, as misinterpreted by several print and electronic media.
According to the ministry, the receipt of the 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 the year 2015.
With regard to the Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft, the Defense Ministry explained that it is basically deployed for maritime surveillance, search and rescue operations and to deliver information to various required platforms.
The ministry stated that the unavailability of this capability was the motive for bilateral dialogues between the Governments of 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.
The statement further read: “Accordingly, during the period earmarked for manufacturing process of the said aircraft, the Government of India will lend a similar aircraft which will be piloted by Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) pilots. An Indian training team will also arrive and stay on the island until the SLAF gains the required expertise. Thus, 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.”
Further, with regard to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Colombo (MRCC), the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for the proposal to establish MRCC with a US $ 6 million grant from the Government of India. “The establishment of MRCC is highly essential to instantly respond to the search and rescue services of vessels in distress operating in the region and ensure the safety of vessels in compliance to various international conventions. Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) is the authority responsible for conducting Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operations for commercial ships around the island’s SAR region.”
Clarifying further, the Defense Ministry stated that the Merchant Shipping Secretariat being the official representative of the International Maritime Organization has entrusted the Maritime Search and Rescue operations for commercial ships to SLN. MRCC covers the SAR responsibility for over 1,778,062.24 Km2 which is approx. 27 times of the landmass of Sri Lanka. “SLN will be the primary stakeholder of this project along with several other organizations. Cabinet memorandum for this project was initially submitted in the year 2017 by the Ministry of Defence.”
In its statement, the Defense Ministry assured that prior to the signing of the aforementioned three pacts, it has followed the standard criteria and procedures while channeling it through the other mandatory state establishments including the Attorney General’s Department.
“Therefore, except economic and security gains embedded with infrastructure and personnel development, the Defense Ministry assures there won’t be any kind of risk to the national security of Sri Lanka it is being a sovereign nation.”