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Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne assumes duties as the 20th Commander of the Navy

Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne assumes duties as the 20th Commander of the Navy

His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, has been pleased to appoint Rear Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, WV, RWP & Bar, RSP, USP, ndc, psn, as the new Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy and promote him to the 3-star rank of Vice Admiral with effect from 11th July 2015.

In a symbolic gesture of handing over command, the outgoing Commander of the Navy Admiral Jayantha Perera presented him the Admiral's Sword at a function held at the Naval Headquarters on 11th July 2015. Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne was accorded a Guard of Honour upon his official arrival having taken over command as the new Commander of the Navy. Thereafter, he assumed duties in his new appointment amidst religious blessings. His beloved wife, Mrs. Yamuna Wijegunaratne, loving son, Satyajith and Director Generals of the Navy were also present on the occasion to convey their best wishes to the new Navy Commander.

Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne is the 20th Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy in its illustrious history spanning over 64 years. Prior to being appointed as the Navy Commander, he held the post of Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Navy.

Vice Admiral Ravindra (Ravi) Wijegunaratne was educated at the Royal College, Colombo 7, where he became a President's Scout and the Lance Sergeant of the College Cadet Platoon and represented the college in hockey and athletics. He joined the Sri Lanka Navy as an officer cadet of the 9th Intake at the Naval & Maritime Academy, Trincomalee in the executive branch at the age of 18 years. He underwent his basic training at the Naval and Maritime Academy, Trincomalee and at the prestigious Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), Dartmouth, UK. He was the recipient of the "Best International Midshipman" award at the BRNC, Dartmouth in year 1982.

He completed his Sub Lieutenant Technical Course in India, Specialization in Anti- submarine Warfare in India, Naval Staff Course in Pakistan and National Defence College Course in India.

He has commanded a number of Patrol and Fast Attack Craft in the Sri Lanka Navy and his last sea command was SLNS Sayura (Offshore Patrol Vessel), the Flag Ship of the Sri Lanka Navy. The other key appointments he has held during his unblemished naval career are the Commandant Naval & Maritime Academy, Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Director General (Services), Director Naval Operations/Special Forces/Maritime Surveillance when the last four (04) floating warehouses of the LTTE were destroyed in year 2007, Commander Southern Naval Area, Commander Western Naval Area, Commander Northern Naval Area and Commander Eastern Naval Area. He was the Director General of Sri Lanka Coast Guard prior to taking over the appointment of the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Navy on 07th July 2014.

Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne is a qualified diver, parachute jumper and the senior most Special Force naval officer who was instrumental in forming the Sri Lanka Navy's Special Force element known as the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) which contributed immensely during the conflict period. He commanded this elite unit twice in his career and has led a number of SBS operations behind the enemy lines and amphibious operations; including famous 'Poonaryn Operation' in 1993. He also fought alongside the Indian Navy Marine Commandos (MARCOS) during 'Operation Pawan' in the Jaffna Lagoon area in year 1987. He has also led SBS teams for a number of joint exercises with the US Navy SEALs and the Indian Navy MARCOS in Sri Lanka and abroad. He has sustained serious injuries and broke both legs as a result of a parachute jump accident in year 2001 and recovered back strongly with his sheer determination.

He was the First Secretary and the Defence Adviser of the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi, India from November 2001 to April 2005. His contribution in planning and coordinating the Indian Navy disaster relief operations during the Boxing Day Tsunami disaster was commended by both the Indian and the Sri Lankan governments.

Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne is a highly decorated senior naval officer with four gallantry medals for his act of bravery and valour for fighting against the LTTE terrorists. He is a recipient of Weerodhara Vibushanaya (highest gallantry medal in Sri Lanka for non-military nature), Rana Wickrama Medal awarded twice (individual gallantry in the face of the enemy) and Rana Sura Medal (collective gallantry in the face of the enemy).

He earned his BSc (Hons) degree in War Studies from the Karachchi University, Pakistan in 1996 and MPhil in Defence and Strategic Studies (First Class pass) from the University of Madras in India in 2010. He is an alumni of the National Defence University, Washington DC, USA (NESA Centre). He is widely known as an expert in "Asymmetric Naval Warfare" and "Small Boat Operations", two concepts which have brought glory to the Sri Lanka Navy during the confrontations out at sea with the LTTE sea tiger suicide boats. He was invited as a guest lecturer to the Centre for Irregular War and Armed Groups, US Naval War College, New Port, Rhode Island, USA and Pakistan Navy War College, Lahore, Pakistan to speak on his battle experiences and on new naval concepts/tactics.

He is a keen sportsman who represented the Sri Lanka Navy in rugby football for a number of years and a recipient of the Sri Lanka Navy Colours for sailing/rowing and rugby football. He also held the Chairmanship of the Sri Lanka Rifle Association and is the present Chairman of the Sri Lanka Navy Golf Club.

He is married to Yamuna (nee De Saram), who was the Miss Sri Lanka in year 1989. She represented Sri Lanka in Miss Asia Pacific contest in year 1989 and is a former model/Tele drama actress. They are blessed with a 22-year-old son, Satyajith, who is a keen golfer.

Courtesy: Navy Media

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