Sri Lanka navy seeks to expand fleet

July 17, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s new navy commander said he wants to expand the fleet and increase troop strength to better protect the island from maritime threats and ensure the Tamil Tiger insurgency does not recur. Thisara Samarasinghe said that although the Tigers were defeated in May, winning the war did not mean the navy’s strength would be reduced.

“The navy needs to remain strong, expand and modernise to prevent future terrorist threats and protect our maritime resources,” he told a news conference, a day after assuming command.

“We need to buy more ships. Although there is no immediate requirement, in the long term we need to build our fleet to improve our surveillance capabilities,” he said.

“Just because the war is over, it does not mean we have to reduce our strength.”

He said his future plans include setting up a naval air wing in collaboration with the air force and also having missile boats, as a missile-armed navy would make a potential enemy think twice.

“An air wing is not critically important but would help improve our surveillance capabilities in the long term.”

He said it was because of inadequate surveillance that Tigers were able to smuggle in arms and drag on th