We are finally seeing the real picture emerging, on what went on, who was responsible for the handing over of Onboard Security Operations (OSO) to Avant Garde, then a penny farthing of an imp, that grew into Frankensteins Monster out of all proportions.
It is clear that it is simply due to the brilliance of the Sri Lanka Navy in protecting its own during the LTTE insurgency, that the world took note of the possibility of the Sri Lanka Navy protecting Merchant Shipping from Somali Pirates, a huge problem then, and less of a problem now.
This operation which was HIJACKED by Nissanka Senadhipathi and his ilk, because of the incompetence and greed of the then Navy Top Brass, who wanted to financially benefit from this business, will be outed in the coming days when the New Navy Commander is comfortably settled at his desk and able to articulate without fear the tragic past that prevented the State from profiting from this golden opportunity, and instead was handed over to a private concern for exploitation to the fullest. The fact that anyone could be bought by the Avant Garde machine, due to the profitability of this protection that was paid for by the International Merchant Shipping Community, is established history and the list of those bought off is still not complete.
It would be nice if one day, Nissanka Senadhipathi lists all who were paid off, and lists what they were paid off with, (wine, women, whatever) which will be great bed time reading for our citizens like nothing else before. We know of the rumors and tit bits of fact, but the whole nine yards will indeed make interesting reading.
The bottom line is that today, the money to be made is less, as the amounts being paid for protection has fallen due to the threat of Somali Pirates being less, but there is still some amount of protection of International Merchant Shipping that is needed as the Navy Commander says.
When Senadhipathi mischievously says that 340 retired Naval Personnel lost their jobs with the folding of the Avant Garde Operation, one must ask if they took jobs that the Navy should have got in the first place and then some. It was he who stole the jobs from the Navy and not the other way round. What the article should have shown was the kind of work that Avant Garde billed for which the Navy is NOT getting now, to be able to make a fair comparison.
Yes the US$10K earned by the Sea Marshalls a month, or should have earned, if most of it was not creamed off by the Chairman for himself and for payoffs, is no longer earned, but then it was the Navy’s money if they were doing the job, so I would have wanted the Daily News to report with explanations, instead of mere word for word reporting what a person of questionable repute said!
I am sure the current Navy Commander understands the guts of the issue better than most, and as his reputation is not tarnished like those who have preceded him, by their association to Senadipathi’s largesse, he is in the best position to recommend to the Sri Lankan Government what the best course of action should be in diplomatic negotiations to regain, as much work as possible with regard to security of merchant ships plying the waters all the way from the Gulf of Aden to the Straits of Malacca, and then the ball is in the court of the Foreign Minister to negotiate Bilaterally or Multilaterally to regain some of the lost business opportunities back to Sri Lanka.
This is a Billion dollar business that will make the Sri Lanka Navy, completely self financing, NOT having to rely on any Government Funding, and it will also be able to finance their fleet replacement and submarine capability that can be added to the security operation, as in small manouvrable submarines that has the ability to home in on pirates undetected, and prevent them from being a threat any more.
As you can see the possibilities are endless, and a good management team in place, can do wonders, in making our Navy one to be envied, most of all by the Indians and Chinese who will definitely not be amused at our rising power. Remember history, Britannia ruled the waves, it is now the turn of Sri Lanka to rule the waves.
Do not forget that finally we in Sri Lanka have been blessed with a Navy Commander of impeccable reputation, one which so irks Wimal Weerawansa to accuse him of being a US spy, as he had worked under that administration at some point when life was made difficult for him by the very rogues I refer to above. He has a distinguished and unmatched reputation in battle, that makes him the most experienced wartime Commander still in active service, and so the most qualified for the job.
So let us salute the new Navy Commander, Travis Sinniah, and trust he will bring to the table a plan to add value to the Navy, allow it to finance its own re-fleeting, while at the same time build an independent Coast Guard Operation, that protects the shores of Sri Lanka from smuggling and illegal fishing, something the Navy should not get involved in at all.
Now about commanding the new U boat squadron – Any takers?