The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) demonstrated a simulated exercise on mid-sea boarding and vessel searching techniques to visiting delegates of the Senior Drug Enforcement Officials Meeting of the Indian Ocean Region. This was held with a view to share knowledge on identification and detection of narcotics being trafficked in concealed compartments in fishing vessels in the region.
The exercise was held at the Western Naval Command Headquarters at the Colombo Port on Thursday and was jointly organised by the SLN and the Sri Lanka Coast Guard with experts from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). A Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) team comprised of special boat squadron personnel of the SLN and the Coast Guard conducted the demonstration.
The exercise was carried out under the patronage of the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral R. C.Wijeguneratne.
Before commencing the exercise, Director Operations of the CMF Capt. Michael Turner conducted a presentation on boarding and searching techniques and enlightened those present on the professional competencies required for boarding a vessel at sea using the advantage of surprise.
Responding to a query on the outcome of the three-day meeting, Head of the Global Maritime Crime Program of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Alan Cole said that they were able to build a good network among the law enforcement officials that participated in the meeting from Indian Ocean states and to exchange information and criminal intelligence on heroin trafficking by sea.
Cole added that the Global Maritime Crime Program of the UNODC was also able to gain a better understanding of the training requirements of the various law enforcement organisations that took partin the meeting.
Senior drug enforcement officials from the Indian Ocean region, senior officials of the Ministry of Defence and SLN, officials of the CMF and foreign delegates were present to witness the exercise.
Pix by Pradeep Pathirana