News

New addition to the fleet: Navy to accept transfer of ‘Douglas Munro’

By Asiri Fernando

The Sri Lanka Navy will accept the transfer of an ex-US Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) on Tuesday (26) in Seattle, Washington, The Sunday Morning learnt.

A delegation of senior navy officers will depart for Seattle today (24) to receive the ship, defence sources told The Sunday Morning.

The vessel, ex-USCGC Douglas Munro, will become the third US-built ship to enter service with the Sri Lanka Navy.

A team of Sri Lanka Navy sailors were in Seattle to train on the vessel, with others expected to join next year. A ship’s crew, led by Capt. Lanka Dissanayake, is expected to take over command of the vessel.

Sources indicate that delays in Sri Lanka signing the agreement for the transfer of the vessel may push back maintenance and overhaul schedules of the ship, causing the vessel to be ready for sea trials in mid-2022.

According to defence sources, the vessel’s journey to Sri Lanka, once maintenance and training is complete, would be the longest journey a Sri Lankan Navy vessel undertook to date.

Navy Commander Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne met USCG Commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz last month during the International Seapower Symposium (ISS) and discussed the transfer of the Douglas Munro. The Sri Lanka Navy Commander had thanked Schultz for providing the vessel free of cost, the Navy said in a press release.

The “Douglas Munro”, a 115-m-long vessel with a displacement of 3,250 tonnes, is designed for long-range patrols which last over 40 days. The last vessel in her class of ships, it was decommissioned in April this year after serving the USCG for 49 years.

Once transferred, the ship will join the SLN’s Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) fleet, and will serve alongside her sister vessel, SLNS Gajabahu (P626), which was donated to Sri Lanka in 2018. Both vessels are of the US Hamilton-class high endurance cutter family. The first US vessel (ex-USCG Courageous) was gifted to Sri Lanka in 2004, entering service as SLNS Samudura (P261).

The Navy is building its blue water surveillance capability to patrol Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the high seas around the island which are frequented by narcotics, arms, and human traffickers.