Sri Lanka’s Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne on Monday (07, August) inspected the services being put up at the Galle OBST operations centre, to facilitate Netherlands Merchant Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) operating in the Indian Ocean.
The Netherlands VPDs are expected to embark/disembark Dutch Marines as well as store small arms at the OBST facility in Galle in the coming few weeks. The Dutch Marines will be providing onboard security to the Netherlands Merchant Vessels frequenting in the Indian Ocean.
The above arrangement transpired as a result of the MoU signed between the Netherlands and Sri Lankan Government on 16th May 2017 at the Ministry of Defence. Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi, the former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Her Excellency Joanne Doornewaard, the Netherlands Ambassador in Sri Lanka signed the MoU in the presence of Commander of the Navy and the Director General Operations of the Navy. The initial discussion in this regard came into being during the bilateral discussions held at the last year’s Galle Dialogue organized by the Sri Lanka Navy.
The Dutch shipping register includes more than 1200 Merchant Vessels and is considered as one of the most modern merchant shipping fleets in the world today. Most of the Netherlands shipping companies have increased their operations and agents like Nedlloyd, Netherland Line, and APL (Netherlands) are some of the prominent shipping companies that have made increased presence in the Indian Ocean.
The above agreement remains to date as the first ever Government to Government MoU signed between Sri Lanka and a foreign country.
The Sri Lanka Navy undertook the facilitation of OBST operations following a directive from His Excellency the President on 13th November 2015. Since then the Sri Lanka Navy has completed 11,105 movements from Galle, Hambantota and Colombo operations centres and has earned over Rs. 3,855,685,681.60 to the Government coffers.
The highly convenient facilities provided by the Sri Lanka Navy at their Galle OBST operations centre have been praised by a large number of companies engaging in providing OBST for a Merchant Vessels.