Courageous Navy divers felicitated by China for their daring diving operation
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka on 06th June 2023 organised a special ceremony in Colombo to felicitate the diving team of the Sri Lanka Navy, which engaged in a heroic diving operation at the overturned Chinese fishing vessel ‘LU PENG YUAN YU 028’. The Chinese vessel upturned in the Australian Search and Rescue Region, south of Sri Lanka on 16th May 2023. The event was presided over by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka, H.E. Qi Zhenhong and Chief of Presidential Staff and Senior Adviser on National Security to the President, Mr Sagala Ratnayaka.
As per Sri Lanka’s commitment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) Colombo established at the Navy Headquarters, is responsible for coordinating and facilitating maritime search and rescue operations in its designated region as well as neighbouring regions.
At the directives of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, a diving team onboard SLNS Vijayabahu was dispatched to the SAR Region to engage in a challenging diving operation at the overturned Chinese fishing vessel. Having reached the location, the Sri Lanka Navy divers meticulously searched for air pockets within the upturned vessel, hoping to find any survivors. After strenuous diving in challenging conditions for 03 days, the Navy divers retrieved 02 bodies from the accommodation area and located 12 more decomposed bodies of the crew from other compartments. In less than 24 hours after the challenging diving operation, the distressed Chinese vessel sank into the deep depths of the ocean. It is in this backdrop, the Sri Lanka Navy’s exceptional diving operation, carried out under such hazardous circumstances, received international acclaim.
On completion of its intended task, SLNS Vijayabahu commenced the return journey and on her way home the ship retrieved an ill fisherman from a local multi day fishing trawler at sea about 460 nautical miles (851km) off Galle and brought him ashore for medical attention on 26th May.
Speaking at the felicitation ceremony, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka said that the special diving operation carried out by the Navy was a testament to the friendly and strong relationship between the two countries.
The Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, H.E. Paul Stephens, diplomats of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka, a group of ministers, state officials, Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director General Operations, Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake, Commanding Officer SLNS Vijayabahu, the crew of the ship and a group of distinguished guests were also present on this occasion. (SL Navy)