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* Australia delivers first Bay Class patrol vessel to Sri Lanka
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 11:53 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 31, Colombo: Australia has delivered the first of the two Bay Class patrol vessel it gifted to Sri Lanka to boost the efforts by the island's Navy to prevent people smuggling in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka Navy Commander Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage received the first Australian Bay Class patrol vessel at a ceremony held in Cairns, Australia on 29th March 2014.

The flag transfer ceremony, which marked the passing of responsibility, authority and accountability of command of the vessel from one Flag state to another, took place in the presence of the officials representing the Australian Customs and Border Protection, Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia, Admiral (retd) Thisara Samarasinghe, Commander of the Navy and the SLN crew, who will be manning the vessel's 4800 nautical-mile voyage home, the Navy said.

The highly agile and responsive vessel, formerly known as Australian Customs and Border Protection Vessel (ACV) Corio Bay, will complement the Sri Lanka Navy's existing fleet.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbot who was in Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last November announced that two Bay class patrol boats will be given to Sri Lanka to boost the efforts by the island's Navy to prevent people smuggling in the Indian Ocean.

The Australian PM commended Sri Lanka Navy's efforts in preventing people smuggling at a high-level meeting held onboard Sri Lanka Navy's Flag Ship Sayura at the Port of Colombo on 17th November 2013.

The fully furbished Australian Bay-class patrol vessel will substantially augment the SLN's capacity as it is able to cover a large area of the Indian Ocean and serve Sri Lanka's Search and Rescue Area more effectively.

The event symbolizes the commitment of the key partners in enhancing maritime security in the region and the bilateral cooperation that exists between the two governments on combating people smuggling, the Navy said.

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