Colombo: Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon has visited the two Indian Navy ships taking part in SLINEX-23, the 10th edition of the ongoing annual bilateral maritime exercise between the navies of the two countries, the official media here reported Thursday.
State Minister Tennakoon was accompanied by the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay, and was received by the Commanding Officers of the two Indian ships participating in the exercise upon his arrival on board Wednesday, state-run Daily News newspaper reported.
The Indian Navy is represented by INS Kiltan (Advanced Anti Submarine Warfare Corvette) and INS Savitri (Offshore Patrol Vessel), and the Sri Lanka Navy has SLNS Gajabahu (Advance Offshore Patrol Vessel) and SLNS Sagara (OPV) in the exercise.
The joint naval exercise kicked off Monday and is aimed at enhancing interoperability, improving mutual understanding and exchanging best procedures in the multi-faceted maritime operations between the navies of the two countries, the Indian High Commission here said in a statement.
The two dignitaries were briefed about the indigenous capabilities and technical features of the ships participating in the exercise.
“Bridges of Friendship!!! SLINEX 2023: Day 3. High Commissioner and Hon’ble Minister @PremiTennakoon visited @indiannavy ships yesterday. They were briefed about the indigenous capabilities of these ships,” the Indian High Commission said in a tweet Thursday.
The Commanding Officers of the visiting ships, while accompanying the state minister and the Indian envoy, also explained the events intended to take place during the joint naval exercise, the report said.
The two navies organised a yoga session and a cultural performance Wednesday.
The Indian High Commission tweeted, “@indiannavy and @srilanka_navy organised a Yoga Session at Galle Face and Cultural Performance at Viharmahadevi Park. The ships were especially open for School Children.”
The Indian crew also paid their respects at the Sri Sudarshanaramaya Temple here and “gave donations for Temples and Schools in #SriLanka on behalf of @indiannavy,” the tweet said.
Sri Lanka–India Naval Exercise “SLINEX-2023” is being conducted in two phases –the Harbour Phase in Colombo from April 3-5, followed by the Sea Phase from April 6-8.
The Indian Navy Chetak helicopter and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft, along with Sri Lanka Air Force Dornier and BEL412 helicopters are also participating in the exercise, the statement said.
SLINEX exemplifies the deep engagement between India and Sri Lanka, which has strengthened mutual cooperation in the maritime domain, the statement said.
The interactions between the Sri Lankan and the Indian navies have grown significantly in recent years in accordance with India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.