The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) received an ex-US Coast Guard (USCG) Hamilton-class cutter from the United States on 27 August.
The high-endurance cutter (formerly known as USCGC Sherman before being decommissioned in March) was handed over to the navy as a gift in a ceremony held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ceremony was presided over by SLN commander Vice Admiral Sirimevan Ranasinghe and USCG Rear Admiral Michael Haycock.
In a 29 August statement, the US Embassy in Colombo said that the 155.2 m-long cutter, which is set to become the largest ship in the Sri Lankan fleet, will strengthen bilateral defence co-operation and increase interoperability between the navies of the two countries.
The vessel is expected to increase the South Asian country’s ability to patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone, “providing additional security for ships from all nations that transit the busy sea lanes of the Indian Ocean”, according to the statement. It is also set to be deployed to provide maritime security and assistance for search-and-rescue operations.
The embassy also said that 110 Sri Lankan sailors have been training for over a month on how to operate the vessel. The sail-away date for the cutter will be in February 2019, with US-provided overhaul, maintenance, and crew training expected to continue until then. The cutter will be the second former USCG vessel to join the SLN following SLNS Samudura (ex- Courageous ), which was gifted to Sri Lanka in 2004.
The Hamilton class has an overall beam of 13.1 m and a draught of 6.1 m. The cutters have a top speed of 29 kt, a standard range of 9,600 n miles (17,779 km) at 15 kt, and can accommodate a crew of 167 and one helicopter on the flight deck.
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