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SAARC Diary: Sri Lanka Thanked India for Operation Sagar Araksha


NEW DELHI, June 12: The Sri Lanka navy Commander Vice-Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne welcomed the captains of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) vessels as they arrived at Colombo Port for Operational Turn Around on Thursday and thanked India for its prompt response to the deployment of Operation Sagar Araksha II to extinguish the fire that occurred in MV Xpress Pearl during the last week of May. The captains in turn, informed their involvement in the operation, particularly about Samudra Prahari, a specialised pollution response vessel.

According to the Indian High Commissioner’s office, Gopal Baglay, High Commissioner of India, joined on the occasion and thanked the Commander and the Sri Lanka Navy for their unwavering cooperation to the Indian vessels throughout the operation, and conveyed that it was not just geography that bound India and Sri Lanka in the maritime sphere, but the tradition of close cooperation in responding to emergency situations at sea as demonstrated by Operation Sagar Araksha I and II.

He emphasised that bilateral mechanisms to appropriately respond to emergency situations in the shared maritime space are critical and that as India and Sri Lanka work together to ensure safety and security in the shared maritime space, it is critical to remain adequately prepared for natural disasters and man-made catastrophes.

For information, MV XPress Pearl had caught fire on May 25 and India within hours of request from the Sri Lankan Navy had deployed the ICG warships  to extinguish the fire on-board the vessel along with pollution control assistance. The three ICG ships, as well as the ICG Dornier, were all actively involved in putting out the fire. Pollution Control Vessels were fully prepared to address environmental concerns and could aid in the assessment of Maritime Pollution Threats.

Similar warships of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard were dispatched to support efforts in Sagar Araksha I to control and extinguish the fire on-board the MT New Diamond off the coast of Sri Lanka in September 2020, in accordance with SAGAR’s goal of Security and Growth for All in the Region.

(Venkatesh Iyer)