HMS Spey drops anchor in Sri Lanka for maiden visit to Colombo
Spey, which is operating in the Indian Ocean for the first time having spent the bulk of her Operation Woodwall deployment around the Pacific Rim/Southeast Asia and Australasia, spent three days in the capital Colombo.
The visit paves the way for future co-operation between the two Commonwealth navies in a part of the world key not just to both the UK and Sri Lanka, but global trade and stability.
The patrol ship was greeted by a ceremonial welcome provided by the Sri Lankan Navy pipe and drums band – a well-received nod to Spey’s Scottish heritage.
In response, the ship hosted a demonstration evening and reception, attended by British High Commissioner Andrew Patrick, Sri Lanka’s Defence Minister, Premitha Tennakoon, as Guest of Honour and Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, the head of the Sri Lankan Navy, and business leaders looking to forge links between the two countries.
The remainder of the short visit – which took place on the cusp of the 76th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence – was focused on military discussions and improving understanding of both the ways of working of the two navies and their capabilities.
This will prove particularly useful in coming months as the Sri Lankan Navy is integrating in the Combined Maritime Forces – the international coalition of more than 40 like-minded nations dedicated to tackling smuggling, piracy, terrorist and criminal activity in the Indian Ocean/Gulf/Red Sea region.
The visit also provided an opportunity to explore Sri Lanka, with many of the 56-strong ship’s company volunteering at ethical tourist sights, supporting the welfare of elephants and conservation of sea turtles.
And back on board, the sailors organised ship’s tours and equipment demonstrations for their hosts, while Commanding Officer Commander Paul Caddy called on senior Sri Lankan naval officers to discuss operations and co-operation.
Which was then put to the test with some combined training and exercises off Colombo with the patrol ship SLNS Samudura, a former US Coast Guard cutter which now performs general patrol duties (fishery protection, policing/counter smuggling, maritime security operations) for the Commonwealth navy.
“It has been a privilege to visit Sri Lanka in the lead up to the 76th anniversary of their independence and to celebrate 75 years of relations between the UK and Sri Lanka,” said Commander Caddy.
“Like the UK, Sri Lanka has an important role in upholding the Rules Based International Order, particularly at this moment where we are working together on maritime security challenges in the southern Red Sea and our cooperation within the Combined Maritime Force is growing.”