Ex-US Coast Guard cutter enters service with Sri Lanka Navy

The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) commissioned an ex-US Coast Guard (USCG) Hamilton-class cutter on 6 June.

On 6 June the Sri Lanka Navy commissioned SLNS
, an ex-USCG Hamilton-class cutter, in a ceremony held at the Colombo harbour. (Sri Lanka Navy)

Named SLNS Gajabahu (with pennant number P 626), the 115.2 m-long vessel entered service in a ceremony held at the Colombo harbour attended by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

The high-endurance cutter (formerly known as USCGC Sherman ) is now the largest ship in the SLN fleet and is expected to “increase the operational capability of the island’s sea arm”, according to a statement issued by the SLN that same day.

The vessel, which was handed over to the SLN in August 2018 as a gift from the US, will be used for “patrol and surveillance missions in the deep seas around Sri Lanka, providing the maritime security and assistance to [conduct] search-and-rescue operations”, said the service.

Gajabahu , which will have a crew of 133, including 22 officers, has been equipped with “state-of-the-art weapons and machinery”, added the SLN.

In an August 2018 statement, the US Embassy in Colombo said that Sri Lanka’s acquisition of the cutter, which had been decommissioned by the USCG in March 2018, would strengthen bilateral defence co-operation and increase interoperability between the navies of the two countries.

The ship is expected to increase the country’s ability to patrol its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), “providing additional security for ships from all nations that transit the busy sea lanes of the Indian Ocean”, according to the US Embassy’s statement.

The ship is the second former USCG cutter to join the SLN, following SLNS Samudura (ex- Courageous ), which was gifted to Sri Lanka in 2004. The Hamilton-class has a full-load displacement of 3,353 tonnes, an overall beam of 13.1 m, and a draught of 6.1 m, according to Janes Fighting Ships .

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