Sri Lanka is not likely to join ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ in the Red Sea to counter attacks mounted by Yemen-based Houthis, The Island learns.
A section of the media discussed the possibility of deploying two vessels in support of the US-led operation after President Ranil Wickremesinghe on January 3 at an event at the BMICH declared the decision to join the multinational maritime task force.
However, post-war Sri Lanka lacked the capacity to deploy at least one fully equipped vessel in the Red Sea, sources said.
Recently CNN reported how the USN had to Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) for the first time in the Red Sea since the trouble began in the wake Israeli invasion of Gaza in response to Oct 07, 2023 Hamas raids. USS Gravely, Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer shot down the Houthi missile within a mile of the vessel underscored the growing threat posed by Houthis regardless of continuing Western airstrikes on them.
None of the vessels, OPVs (Offshore Patrol Vessels) in service with the SLN are equipped to operate in a missile environment.
At the onset of the controversy over possible deployment of a vessel in the Red Sea, some speculated that one of the former US Coast Guard vessels now in service with the Navy could be assigned for ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian.’ The vessels are P 627 (former US Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro) in service since 2022 and two other vessels P 621 and P 626 acquired in 2005 and 2018.
The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya and breakaway JVP faction, Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) strongly opposed the Red Sea deployment whereas State Defence Minister Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon strongly defended the decision.
Sri Lanka made the announcement regarding Red Sea deployment in early January following US request for Sri Lanka’s participation in ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian.’
The operation involved the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands and Bahrain. Some countries, including France and Italy, have vessels in the region but they are not assigned to the US-led operation. India hasn’t joined the operation though it, too, has naval assets that can be deployed in case of an emergency.
Source: The Island