14 April, 2024

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The Forgotten Guardians Of The Seas; Reviving Sri Lanka’s Naval Power

By Ayesh Indranath Ranawaka

Ayesh Indranath Ranawaka

In the annals of history, the figure of Sir Walter Raleigh stands as a beacon of exploration and adventure. Yet, beyond his gallant exploits, lies a deeper narrative of maritime dominance and strategic prowess that shaped nations and empires. During Raleigh’s era, explorers were not mere cartographers, but rather daring adventurers who sailed the seas under state patronage, seizing goods and treasures from maritime trade routes.

These audacious exploits weren’t just acts of piracy; they were the seeds of national wealth and diplomatic influence. By enriching their coffers through maritime plunder, these seafaring knights ascended to diplomatic status, eventually earning knighthood and securing a lasting legacy for their descendants. This narrative, often overshadowed by tales of piracy, underscores the pivotal role of naval power in shaping the course of history.

As we reflect on these historical truths, it becomes evident that the lessons of the past hold relevance even in modern times. Sri Lanka, an island nation with a rich maritime heritage, must heed the call to strengthen its naval capabilities. While much attention is often given to land-based military forces, the importance of a robust NAVY cannot be overstated.

In today’s world, where global trade routes are the lifeblood of economies, the protection of maritime routes is paramount. Yet, amidst discussions of army dominance, the navy is often overlooked. It is time to recognize the pivotal role of maritime security in safeguarding national interests and promoting international defence cooperation.

The specter of modern-day piracy looms large, with nefarious actors seeking to exploit vulnerable sea lanes for personal gain. These contemporary pirates, akin to their historical counterparts, pose a threat not only to maritime commerce but also to national security. It is imperative that Sri Lanka, with its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, takes proactive measures to counter this menace.

In this endeavor, the leadership of individuals like Patali Champika Ranawaka is crucial. A politician with a keen understanding of geopolitics and maritime security, Ranawaka exemplifies the vision needed to propel Sri Lanka’s naval capabilities into the future. Under the guidance of such leaders, Sri Lanka can build a NAVY equipped for the challenges of the 21st century.

Furthermore, embracing technological advancements is essential in modernizing the armed forces. A digitized military, equipped with cutting-edge technology and alternative strategies, will ensure superiority in the maritime domain. This necessitates investment not only in naval assets but also in the air force, which plays a complementary role in maritime security operations.

As Sri Lanka charts its course forward, it must prioritize the protection of its seas and communication sea routes. This is not merely a matter of military supremacy but a fundamental responsibility towards national security and economic prosperity. By revitalizing its naval power and embracing a forward-thinking approach, Sri Lanka can reclaim its status as a guardian of the seas, safeguarding its interests for generations to come.

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Latest comments

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    Our Navy personnel are incapable of even dealing with the unarmed, ragtag army of poachers from Tamil Nadu, who come in daily with their bottom trawlers and wipe our seabed clean of all fisheries resources. So how can the SL Navy ever hope to become a naval power?

    P.S. Actually, I can do this job and keep the poachers away, as I have previous experience at this sort of thing.

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      The naval forces have arrested boats and poachers, but the Indian High Commission steps in.

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        Prior to the advent of European who controlled the Indian Ocean, it was Cholas and Pallavas who controlled the Indian ocean. Sea wing of Cholas was called Kadal Pura with which Cholas conquered Kadaram present day Kedah of Malaysia. Pallavas went further in capturing Indonesia and Cambodia. It is only after the fall of Pallava kingdom that Arabs ventured into the Indian ocean and it stopped after European took control. Sinhalese never had naval force and their rule was confined only in the Island, that too they ceded sovereignty to Cholas for about 50 years and rest of the time being a vassal state of Pandyan kingdom. Even the last few kings of Kandyan kingdom were Telegu Nayakkars from Vellore. With competition between China and India to control Indian ocean, Sinhalese naval force will be subservient to them.

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    I read the author’s eight paragraph article with interest with a possible understanding or misunderstanding that whether his 6th paragraph was an act of canvassing of a politician. True! The politician concerned who is Sri Lankan graduate in Engineering and was a lecturer in the Open University is an exception when it comes to talent, analysis, and achievements. I would not delve into the other side of the story of individuals as that would go out of focus of the main thrust of this article, the need for a good naval power and air power as well. Take one of the pressing problems of the country, narcotics, and other contraband. The local mop-up in the name of “Yukthiya (Justice)” is one thing (leaving the dark aspects aside). The reality is that there are floating storages in the Indian Ocean where anything is available. I have not heard of such storages in other oceans. These storages are a menace to countries, particularly Sri Lanka, where our coastline is inadequately protected. It is in the national interest of Sri Lanka to ward of the ill effects of such storages by all means, in other words a good naval and airpower.

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    What is more imperative is a strong intelligence service that has nation’s best intersts at its heart, not that of various other local, regional and global actors, but for that one needs a sense of patriotism, an identity that is national, not centered around ethno- religiosity – something that is frowned upon and rejected while portraying it to be racist and even fascist.

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    “During Raleigh’s era, explorers were not mere cartographers, but rather daring adventurers who sailed the seas under state patronage, seizing goods and treasures from maritime trade routes.”
    But isn’t it a bit over the top to compare our practically non-existent overseas explorations to the likes of Raleigh or Vasco Da Gama.
    The differences are basically cultural. Many explorers started out as fishermen looking for better fishing grounds. This was parlayed into efforts to bypass the Arab monopoly on the spice trade. In this country, killing fish was portrayed as sinful. We didn’t take our spices to Europe to sell them, we simply waited for the foreign traders to visit.
    BTW, is PCR related to the author?

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