February 8, 2023

Srilankan navy boat found after extensive search operation

Source – Sohan Vipulananda ( Sundaytimes)

A Sri Lankan Navy vessel which was reported missing for the past 30 days has finally come back to the country, with an officer saying there was an engine breakdown.

The Navy sent the vessel with a senior officer and some officers from the volunteer Navy force on September 16 for a special surveillance operation off the Southern coast.

Due to bad weather at sea, the craft has drifted away for about 400 nautical miles (about 740 km) towards high seas South east of the island and communication with the Navy was completely lost since September 17.

Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Colombo in the Navy Headquarters disseminated the developments to Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres in the region and Naval and fishing communities were
kept informed, a Navy spokesperson said.

The vessel experienced an engine breakdown which could not make the boat move further and it could not pass the power to the battery which was the ultimate reason for loss of communication, Navy spokesperson Indika de
Silva said.

There was a technician among the six sailors on board. He tried to find the solution to rectify the breakdown but could not find a way to do so for 20 days.

The Naval officers are well trained to preserve food and live with the available resources, so they do not have to consume water or to catch raw fish from the sea. While they already had food for two weeks which they preserved well knowing that it would take more time than that.

After the mechanical fault was fixed by the technician, the Navy’s Auxiliary Ship A 521 deployed in the search and rescue operation spotted the craft off the Southern coast on October 18 and re-established communication links.

“There is no evidence that our Naval officers attempted to flee the country,” Capt de Silva said, following rumours that the
six sailors wanted to flee
the country.

The six sailors who returned to the island are in good medical condition and are physically fit and they will get back to work after a fact finding investigation is completed.

The Sri Lanka Navy expressed its sincere gratitude to the Sri Lanka Air Force, MRCCs in the region and fishing and Naval communities for assisting the search and rescue operations as well as the governments of India, the Maldives, Indonesia and Australia for carrying out search operations in their respective maritime borders.

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