US underwater demining assistance improves safety

The U.S. Navy recently concluded a two-week training session in Trincomalee to equip and support Sri Lanka’s underwater demining efforts. Working with scan sonars and robots donated by the U.S. Navy, the Sri Lankan Navy enhanced its ability to search, locate, and provide information on any unknown items underwater, including unexploded ordnance from the conflict in Trincomalee Harbor.

“The United States is committed to aiding demining efforts across Sri Lanka, whether on land or at sea,” said U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap. “By removing these remnants of war, we are helping ensure Sri Lankans can live and work more safely. This effort also increases the ability for the port of Trincomalee to expand its commercial operations.”

This recent exercise is part of continuing U.S. assistance for demining efforts across the country, totaling over $43 million since 1993. In his October 8 meeting with the Honorable D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, Ambassador Keshap announced an additional $1.745 million in support of demining activities in Sri Lanka.

U.S. assistance to Sri Lanka’s demining efforts have also included the transfer of safety and field equipment, surveys on mine contamination for detection and land release, and mine-clearing operations. The United States is also leading efforts to boost Sri Lanka’s own demining capacity through training for mine disposal units in the Sri Lankan military, including the Mine Detection Dog and underwater demining programs.

“It was an honor to work with such a dedicated group of guys [in the Sri Lankan Navy],” said Leading Petty Officer Juan Hernandez. “Sharing my knowledge of these systems and seeing how receptive the divers have been has truly been a rewarding experience.” (News Release)