(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Australian Government gifted three Port class Stabicraft vessels to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard on 25 January, reinforcing Sri Lanka’s civil maritime security capabilities and fulfilling a promise made by then Australian Prime Minister Turnbull during his visit to Sri Lanka in November 2017.
At a gifting ceremony held in Colombo, Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson said the gifting of these vessels highlights both governments’ commitment to safe and secure borders.
“Australia and Sri Lanka have a long track record of cooperation on civil maritime security issues, including working together to combat people smuggling and illegal migration”, Mr Hutchesson said.
“As the gifting of these vessels demonstrates, Australia recognises and values the contribution that the Sri Lanka Coast Guard makes to maritime security in our region.
Further enhancing the Sri Lanka Coast Guard’s operational capabilities will benefit both our countries.”
Minister-Counsellor South Asia (Home Affairs), Tara Cavanagh, explained that close cooperation with international law enforcement partners is one way Australia protects its borders.
“Australia’s prosperity and success as a multicultural nation relies on secure and well-managed borders”, Ms Cavanagh said.
“Our approach to border protection is multi-layered, and strong relationships with our international partners are an important first line of defence. The gifting of these three vessels is a practical example of the strength of Australia’s partnership with Sri Lanka, and underlines the key role of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard in deterring and disrupting the illegal movement of people.”
Since September 2013, Sri Lankan authorities have disrupted 15 people smuggling ventures targeting Australia, with more than 500 people prevented from attempting illegal and unsafe boat journeys across the open ocean.