Written by Zulfick Farzan
04 Feb, 2021 | 2:52 pm
Colombo (News 1st); In parallel with the 73rd National Independence Day celebrations held under the theme ‘A Wealthy Tomorrow – Prosperous Motherland’, Sri Lanka Navy honoured the nation by according a 25-Gun Salute onboard Sri Lanka Naval Ship (SLNS) Samudura by 12.00 noon on 04th February 2020.
This customary Gun Salute, the highest of its kind, was accorded under the directives of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne was administered by Commanding Officer of SLNS Samudura, Captain Chaminda Karunasena, its Executive Officer, Commander Bandara Wahala and Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kasun Parageeth, as a mark of respect to the nation.
According of a Gun Salute could be held on National Independence Day or a particular day designated by the government as a mark of respect to the nation and the highest honour of 25-gun salute is only accorded for nothing but the nation.
Going by this time-honoured custom, Sri Lanka Navy today executed this military honour from SLNS Samudura to coincide with the 73rd Independence Day.
The custom stems from naval tradition in the 14th century, where warships were firing their cannons indicating they were effectively disarmed, to signify the lack of hostile intent towards the opposition.
Traditionally, the main mast of a ship is dressed with maritime signal flags when a Gun Salute honor is presented.
Accordingly, to deck out the vessel with flags for this ceremonial occasion, the main mast of SLNS Samudura had been dressed with signal flags denoting the phrase ‘25 Gun Salutes for the Nation’.
As long as the scale of Gun Salute is concerned, a Captain and below in command of a ship could be accorded a 07 as a return salute.
Ranging from the minimum number; 09 Gun Salute for Consul, 11 for Consul General and Commodore or equivalent, 13 for charged affairs or subordinate diplomatic agent left in charge of a mission, Rear Admiral or equivalent, 15 for Vice Admiral or equivalent, 17 for Secretary of Defence, Governor, High Commissioner, Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary, Admiral or equivalent, 19 for Minister of Defence, Admiral of the Fleet and equivalent, Prime Minister and 21 for Governor Generals of Common Wealth Countries, Heads of States and His Excellency the President is accorded as deemed necessary.
In 1948, the Navy had fired a 15- Gun Salute at the Galle Face Green on the first Independence Day.
In 1950, the Gun Salute had been accorded onboard HMCyS ‘Vijaya’, the Navy’s first warship. After the HMCyS ‘Vijaya’ was decommissioned, its 03 guns had been fixed at a place called Galle Buck Bay in the Colombo harbour.
Subsequently, the guns had been relocated at the Lighthouse premises in the Fort of Colombo by 2000.
For two decades since 2000, the customary Gun Salute has been performed at the Colombo Lighthouse to coincide with Independence Day celebrations.
The Gun Salute honour accorded to the nation onboard SLNS Samudura today, recorded in the annals of Sri Lanka Navy as the tradition executed onboard platform for the first time after 70 years, subsequent to the naval honour presented way back in 1950 onboard HMCyS ‘Vijaya’.
Meanwhile, the Navy will continue this ceremonial event keeping on with the time-honoured tradition.
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