CONEX – 21 gets underway

The official launching of Colombo Naval Exercise -2021 (CONEX-21), conducted by Sri Lanka Navy for the third consecutive year, was marked onboard Sri Lanka Naval Ship (SLNS) Sayurala at the port of Colombo today (07th February 2021). The exercise is scheduled to be held in seas off Colombo from 08th to 10th of this month. Naval Fleet Command is entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the exercise and smooth execution of the planned serials in next three days.

Met with much success over the past two years (2019 and 2020), the naval exercise propeled into its third edition this year and the official launching of the exercise got off ground with the precedence of Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Rear Admiral Bandara Jayathilake onboard SLNS Sayurala.

The exercise is conducted annually with the participation of Navy units in order to ensure Sri Lanka Navy Fleet is prepared to meet operational challenges and keep up the proficiency of officers and men who man the nation’s First Line of Defence. Further, the exercise also aims to enhance interoperability with Sri Lanka Air Force for seamless naval and air operations over the maritime domain through some serials that are designed to engage naval and air assets at various levels.

Meanwhile, knowledge and experience gained through exercises of this nature help manage both traditional and non-traditional maritime security threats which include but not limited to piracy, maritime terrorism, trafficking of arms, narcotics and persons; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and marine pollution stemming in Indian Ocean Region, even if there is no visible enemy at present. In the similar vein, experiences acquired through these kinds of exercises are extremely vital in carrying out search and rescue (SAR) operations in aid of distressed naval and fishing communities in the search and rescue region of the country, through the coordination of Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Colombo.

Meanwhile, the Offshore Patrol Vessels – SLNS Sayurala, Sayura, Sindurala and Samudura, Fast Missile Vessels – SLNS Suranimila and Nandimithra, Coastal Patrol Vessels – SLNS Mihikatha and Rathnadeepa, Fast Gun Boat – SLNS Udara and 08 Fast Attack Craft of Sri Lanka Navy would augment CONEX – 21.

In the meantime, Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ships – Suraksha, Samudraraksha and Samaraksha as well as MI 17, Bell 412 and 212 helicopters together with an observation air craft, B - 200 King Air from Sri Lanka Air Force would also take part in this year’s exercise.

The exercise is scheduled to be conducted in accordance with the COVID-19 protocols that are in force to contain the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile the inauguration of CONEX-21 was attended by Director General Operations, Rear Admiral Prasanna Mahavithana, Commanding Officer 4th Fast Attack Flotilla, Commanding Officers and Officers in Charge of ships and craft attending the exercise as well as Commanding Officer Special Boat Squadron. Apart from that, officers from the Sri Lanka Coast Guard and Sri Lanka Air Force were in attendance.