July 10,Colombo: Sri Lanka's capacity to manage maritime security risks and conduct search and rescue will be enhanced with the commissioning of two Bay Class patrol boats gifted by Australia, Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison said.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the ex-Australian Customs and Border Protection Vessels (ACVs) Corio Bay and Hervey Bay, now known as Sri Lankan Navy Ships Mihikatha and Rathnadeepa, Minister Morrison said that the Australian Government was proud the vessels' operation would serve to enhance Sri Lanka's maritime security capacity, complementing their current fleet.
"During the past eight months, the Sri Lankan Navy and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service have worked closely together, resulting in the transfer of both these vessels and knowledge and skills of benefit to both countries in combatting people smuggling," Minister Morrison said.
"With these vessels, Sri Lanka will have an enhanced search and rescue capacity and improved interception capacity to deal with illegal fishing and counter people smuggling and other maritime security risks. This regional cooperation is yet another layer to the government's continued efforts to stop people smuggling on Australia's shores and within our region."
Minister Morrison said that in providing these vessels, the Australian Government recognizes the strong relationship between the two countries as well as Sri Lanka's critical role in disrupting people smuggling in the region.
"Australia and Sri Lanka have a strong history of cooperation at the operational level to disrupt people smuggling ventures; the recent return of a group of 41 Sri Lankan nationals who attempted to arrive illegally by boat to Australia serves as a testament to this relationship," Minister Morrison said.
"Australia continues to be grateful for the efforts of the Sri Lankan authorities in combatting the dangerous trade in vulnerable people's lives and false promises, and I am confident these vessels will serve as a useful addition the Sri Lankan Navy's continued efforts to eliminate people smuggling at the source," he said.