The Australian Government through the Department of Home Affairs has gifted two Bay Class vessel engines to the Sri Lankan Navy in a handover ceremony held in Galle, Sri Lanka demonstrating the two nations' shared commitment to combatting illegal maritime activity in our region.
The engines have been installed in SLNS Mihikatha, one of two Bay Class vessels gifted by the Australian Government in 2014 to bolster the Sri Lankan Navy's maritime security capability.
Australia's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka His Excellency Bryce Hutchesson and Rear Admiral Piyal de Silva presided over the ceremony. They spoke at length as to the close and longstanding relationship that exists between Australia and Sri Lanka.
High Commissioner Hutchesson said that Sri Lanka is one of Australia's strongest partners in tackling maritime people smuggling.
'In the last four years, every people smuggling boat that has departed Sri Lanka attempting to reach Australia has failed,' High Commissioner Hutchesson said.
Following the ceremony, Regional Director of Home Affairs Scott Matheson said that the gifting of the engines and vessels is a practical example of Australia's continuing cooperation with Sri Lanka on shared regional maritime issues.
'Australia and Sri Lanka are partners with common border management interests. We cooperate closely to counter people smuggling and other transnational crime at sea, and in maritime search and rescue,' Regional Director Matheson said.
The Australian Border Force, an operationally independent agency under the Home Affairs Portfolio, provides ongoing technical support for these vessels and to the Sri Lankan Navy through training, gifting of equipment and information sharing.
Later this year Australia will gift three Port Class vessels to the Sri Lankan Coast Guard.