Sri Lankan Navy's Role in Eradicating International Maritime Terrorism
By Ravin Edirisinghe
Sri Lanka being an Island nation in the Indian Ocean does have a great role to play in the protection of sea routes running around her. Looking at the geographical setting one can see that Sri Lanka lies very much in the middle of international maritime routes which connect East and the West. Even though Sri Lanka remains as a tiny Island in the Indian Ocean, her role in making the region safe has become a crucial factor in the present scenario.
Development of LTTE’s sea tiger wing and its activities in the late 80s did impose certain restrictions at the early stages and some tend to name the maritime routes around Sri Lanka dangerous. This no doubt had economical impacts on our country as well the neighboring giants during a certain period of time. Despite the small scale sea battles which broke out with the Sri Lanka Navy closer to the shore, sea tigers did carry out attacks targeting Merchant Vessels when they were sailing especially in the Eastern coast. The Navy then had to double the work as the Navy was already entrusted with the monitoring of sea tiger moves taking place closer to the shore, deep sea surveillance to detect LTTE’s illegal shipments of arms and ammunition along with the other tasks that Navy was entrusted with.
By establishing an illegal maritime network, LTTE was capable of bringing in their military hardware at the early stages. The common sea routes that the tigers used spread to East and West of Sri Lanka. A fleet of an approximately 15 rogue ships were in the hands of the sea tigers at various ports under various names and registrations. Accurate identification of a LTTE ship carrying military hardware was difficult without credible intelligence. There was a time period where sharing intelligence was at a low level even among the neighboring countries. Due to lack of sound Intelligence positive detection, identification and verification of details provided by ships were difficult.
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First Published: Asian Tribune