Varuna handed over to Sri Lanka Coast Guard
Varuna, formerly an Indian Coast Guard Ship was formally handed over to Sri Lanka Coast Guard by Director General Rajendra Singh, PTM, TM, Director General, Indian Coast Guard (DG-ICG) in a colourful ceremony on September 5, 2017 at naval base, Kochi. Rear Admiral Samantha Wimalathunge, RWP, USP, Director General Sri Lanka Coast Guard received the ship from Indian Coast Guard in the presence of Rear Admiral SS Ranasinghe, Chief of Staff, Sri Lanka Navy.
The ship would be the first Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) to be inducted into Sri Lanka Coast Guard and has been allocated pennant number SLCG-60 by Sri Lanka Coast Guard. The Ship will be commanded by Captain (ASW) Neville Amara Ubayasiri. Prior to the ship's departure to Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Coast Guard crew was imparted familiarisation and 'On Job Training' by ICG Workup team on ship handling, bridge navigation, engine room controls and machinery.
DG-ICG, during his speech at the transfer ceremony, highlighted the significance of mutually beneficial relations shared between both the countries. DG-ICG also fondly remembered the contributions of the erstwhile training ship and wished good luck to the Sri Lankan crew in all future endeavours. The Director General, Sri Lanka Coast Guard conveyed deep appreciation of Sri Lanka Government to the Government of India for the transfer. He also thanked the DG-ICG for proactive support and assistance for transfer of the ship to Sri Lanka Coast Guard.
The handing over of the erstwhile ICG OPV to Government of Sri Lanka for training and surveillance purposes is part of India's continuing efforts for cementing the historical and cultural ties between the two countries. India has earlier handed over two OPVs of the Indian Coast Guard - Varaha in April 2006 and Vigraha in August 2008.
The ceremony was attended by many dignitaries from the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Customs and Police. Varuna, synonymous with Lord Varuna remained the 'Alma Mater' for Indian Coast Guard Officers for over nearly three decades and has glorious accomplishments to her credit. The Ship was decommissioned with traditional honours on August 23, 2017 to facilitate the handing over.
- Cdr Sridhar E Warrier