Combined operation conducted by the Forces brought victory
Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda
The Navy developed a new counter
strategy to overcome the threat of high speed suicide boats. The
Navy conceptualised the small boats concept and built these
small, high speeds, extremely manoeuvrable with a very strong
fire power. Building a dvora/FAC takes a long period unlike
fiber glass craft.
“Whenever, we had sea battles, the LTTE
used to out number us. For example, when we put 15 FACs the LTTE
put 30 high speed boats mixed with suicide boats. In this
situation, if we miss a suicide boat that will be a huge threat
Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, first serving four stars
Admiral and a war hero who fought ruthless terrorist outfit and helped
bring peace and unity to the nation. On his view, it was a combined
operation conducted by the Navy, Army, Air Force, Police and Civil
Defence Forces to eradicate three decades of terror and liberate the
country. The major factor of victory was the unwavering leadership of
Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces the President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He did not yield to international pressure. He galvanized the public
support behind the Armed Forces. The commitment and dedication of
Defence Secretary who coordinated the activities of the Three Forces,
Police & Civil Defence Force is the second most important factor. All
Three Forces, Police and Civil Defence Force did their utmost which is
another major factor in this victory. The public and the media support
were the other factors.
Since the Navy was formed on December 09, 1950 as Royal Ceylon Navy,
it had contributed immensely such as to protect the Sri Lanka’s
territorial waters, participated in ceremonial functions, assist civil
authorities in national calamities such as floods, Tsunami, etc. and aid
to civil power.
With the escalation of war and establishing sea tiger wing the Navy
had to face biggest challenge in its history that to fight against the
LTTE at sea. The LTTE used the sea as a main medium to carry out various
activities. However, the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) was able to counter this
threat effectively and crushed the LTTE along with other two forces and
Development of Sea Tigers
Aftermath of escalating war in 1983, the LTTE intensified its
activities against the Security Forces. The LTTE started its Sea Wing in
1985, at that time it was known as “Kadal Pura” (Sea Pigeon). Gradually
they improved their activities at sea.
The LTTE carried out many smuggling activities at the initial stages
and also to obtain supplies from overseas using boats with fairly high
speed OBM’s. The Navy did not have sufficiently capable patrol boats to
meet this type of scenario. Therefore the Navy looked for best available
craft with more facilities including superior weapons in the world
market to face this threat.
Thus, the Navy purchased Dvora Fast Attack Craft (FAC) to face the
new threat. Subsequently a craft similar to Dvora was developed & built
at the Colombo Dockyard in Sri Lanka.
The LTTE sea wing could not match these FACs. The LTTE could not
outsmart the FAC threat. The Sea Tigers had to come out with new tactics
to counter the FAC threat. The answer was the suicide boats. And they
used different tactics to lure and damage /destroy the SLN craft using
The LTTE used the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) in 2002 to strengthen
its Sea Wing. The peace accord gave lot of breathing space to the LTTE.
Whenever the LTTE militarily defeated, they call for the peace talks in
order to regroup themselves and rearm themselves.
During the CFA sign in 2002 the LTTE got down lot of arms and
ammunition, various sophisticated equipment, communication equipment
etc. through various means. Most of them went through the Colombo
harbour in containers. The LTTE capitalized the aid coming from foreign
countries aftermath of Tsunami to get their stuff uninterrupted without
their containers being opened.
They developed their fiber glass boat building industry to a great
extent as a result of tsunami. Foreign technician in the guise of NGO
had provided technical supports to build their more and more
sophisticated boats. Therefore, the LTTE could deploy very high speed
boats where SLN Fast Attack Craft (FACs) found difficult to out
manoeuvre these high speed suicide boats after the ceasefire.
The Navy developed a new counter strategy to overcome the threat of
high speed suicide boats. The Navy conceptualised the small boats
concept and built these small, high speeds, extremely manoeuvrable with
a very strong fire power. Building a dvora/FAC takes a long period
unlike fiber glass craft. “Whenever, we had sea battles, the LTTE used
to out number us.
For example, when we put 15 FACs the LTTE put 30 high speed boats
mixed with suicide boats. In this situation, if we miss a suicide boat
that will be a huge threat for us. Therefore, we developed the small
boat concept and built large number of small boats in the Navy and
stationed them in strategic locations to safeguard our sea lines of
These small boats carried the same punch as dvora crafts. We improved
constructing boats, every ten days a boat was completed. We imported
engines and weapons for them. Then, we were able to put larger number of
boats in the battles to counter the LTTE tactics by doubling our boats
against the LTTE boats. This helped us to secure sea lines of
communication”, Admiral Karannagoda said.
Supplies to Jaffna was along the Eastern coast and the LTTE Sea
Tigers tried to interrupt these supplies many a time. They wanted to cut
off supplies to Jaffna as 40,000 military troops stationed in Jaffna.
“We totally demolished the LTTE capability at sea to interrupt our
supplies to the Jaffna Peninsula”, he added.
Stop supplies to the LTTE coming from out side countries
The other aspect was to stop supplies coming in to the country. In
the initial stage SLN destroyed eleven (11) trawlers which were brining
in arms supplies. During the analysis of destruction and details of
captured vessels we found that the LTTE were using large merchant
vessels to come close Sri Lankan Exclusive Economic Zone which is 400km
from Sri Lanka.
The LTTE transferred their warlike material to these multi-day
fishing trawlers and they land these items at their areas. It was
difficult to identify these trawlers, since they were mixing with
genuine fishermen trawlers.
Developing various methods and strategies, the Navy was able to
identify the LTTE smuggling trawlers. “We found it’s a never ending
matter, so we decided that instead of addressing the symptoms we should
address the cause.
We identified that these ships are operating from a distance of 3000
to 4000 Km from Sri Lanka close to Indonesia and Australia. We also
developed our intelligence net work, naval intelligence, and also
intelligence from state intelligence services and military
The improved intelligence enabled us to locate the positions of the
floating warehouse of LTTE close to Indonesian and Australian waters in
high seas”, approximately 3000 to 4000 Km away from Sri Lanka, Admiral
These Sea areas are considered common heritage of all mankind under
the UN convention of law of the sea. No country will allow any
organization to store illegally acquired arms without authority. The
LTTE used the facility that was available under the UN conference on law
of the sea for their benefit.
Using our improved intelligence we were able to narrow down the areas
of these floating warehouses located. We tracked them down and destroyed
these ships carrying arms and weapons in the high seas. That put an end
to all supplies of the LTTE. This was a huge setback to the LTTE.
This was the turning point. To accomplish this gigantic task we did
not have proper naval ship such as frigates, destroys or battle ships.
We used Offshore Patrol Vessels, ocean going fishing trawlers, old
merchant vessels with lot of improvisation, innovation to meet the
They could no longer prosecute the war without the sophisticated
weapons shipment they lost.
Security of Harbour
One of the key factors of LTTE grand strategy was to choke the
Trincomalee harbour in order to prevent naval vessels operating from
Therefore the LTTE started gradually setting up their camps around
the harbour. If they were able to choke the Trincomalee harbour they
would have been able to cut off all the suppliers to Jaffna Peninsula.
The Navy understood this and countered their strategy very effectively.
He said the second part of the LTTE plan was to attack the Port of
Colombo using suicide craft so that the entire economy would collapse
and ships would stop calling over at Colombo.
They made an attempt on July 27, 2007, with 03 suicide craft and SLN
destroyed all 03 suicide craft of LTTE and saved the Colombo harbour.
The LTTE also attempted to attack Galle and Kankesanthurai harbours by
using suicide boats. All these attempts were foiled.
The Navy used the most modern equipment in and around the port
including underwater detection systems to protect the harbours.
To do all these the Navy have developed its human resources base.
That in the skills of its Officers and Sailors. “We geared and motivated
them by taking many steps to meet these challenges and requirements.
This is how Navy played its part in this war”, Admiral Karannagoda