(February 27, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) As scheduled in last year, one hundred and sixty four (164) Marines including 6 officers and 158 sailors, belonging to the first ever SLN Marine Battalion, established following a visionary concept of the Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, passed out at the Naval Base SLNS Barana in Mullikulam today (27), on successful completion of their training.
According to the press communique issued by the Sri Lanka Navy, “the inauguration ceremony of the Marine Battalion together with insignia pinning was graced by the President Maithripala Sirisena as the Chief Guest at the invitation of the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne. Venerable Maha Sanga, other religious dignitaries, Members of Parliament, diplomats, tri-force Commanders, senior officers from the tri-services and a host of family members of passed out Marines and sailors were also present on this occasion.”
The Passing out parade which was held in a dignified sequence, comprised of an impressive drill display presented by skillful Marines as well. Addressing the distinguished gathering the President mentions that, as a country with a prolonged history, we have all heard of a number of notable military missions carried out by the Sri Lankan armed forces and he reiterated that the nation still remembered the supreme sacrifices made by the tri-forces, Police and Civil Defence Force during the period of hostilities in the country.
Making a special remark on the Sri Lanka Navy, the President Maithripala Sirisena commended the noble service rendered by the sea-going arm for the defence of the motherland, as we being an island nation. Further, he extended heartfelt gratitude of the government to the Navy as it is more than capable of undertaking any form of duty for the country’s sake. Besides, the excellent cooperation extended by the American Government by providing opportunities to absorb much needed technological aspects and training, to establish this Marine Battalion, was also highly appreciated by the Sri Lankan President. Moreover, the President took this opportunity to convey his appreciation to the Commander of the Navy and all who took much interest in making this enormous effort a reality on the ground and pledged continuous support of the Government for the progress of the SLN Marine Battalion in the future as well.
The evolution of tense situation in early 1980s in the country demanded for a group of Naval personnel who are well capable of Land Operations. To accomplish this requirement a platoon of naval personnel chosen from the Seaman and Volunteer branches was formed. They were initially deployed for security duties in costal and land areas. Marking a significant feat in the SLN history, the first 3 Naval battalions namely; Vijayaba, Valagamba and Gajaba were established in 1997. These battalions were comprised of 49 officers and 3,000 sailors. Upon immersed them in Army Battalion Training Course, the new combatants were straightaway dispatched to engage the enemy in the Operation Jayasikuru.
Soon after the cessation of hostilities in 2009, a certain level of reorganization in the NPM Branch, with over 5,000 naval personnel, was felt in complying with the core functions and duties of the Sri Lanka Navy. As part of this initiative, the first amphibious group including 300 naval personnel was brought into being by giving them specialized training of 45 days, in early part of 2016.
Subsequently, it was decided to set up a Marine Battalion absorbing officers and sailors from the NPM Branch.
Marking yet another significant milestone in this regard, the US and Sri Lanka Navy senior officers could deliberate more on this area of concern and Marine training, during the Staff Talk held on-board USS Blue Ridge on 29th September 2016. Incidentally, the inception of the Marine Battalion materialized due to yet another visionary concept of the Commander of the Navy and with the blessings of the President. The SLN Marine Battalion which is a master of amphibious operations, is fully fledged in undertaking any form of threat coming from the seas and making use of the beaches across the country for their favour.