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Naval gun battery ignites national pride on Independence Day

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Naval gun battery ignites national pride on Independence Da

Sri Lanka celebrated its 76th National Independence Day with the theme “Let’s build a new country” today (04th February 2024). As part of the celebration, the Sri Lanka Navy paid tribute to the nation with a 25-Gun Salute on board the Sri Lanka Naval Ship (SLNS) Sayura at noon. This ceremonial tradition was carried out in adherence to explicit directives from Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, the Commander of the Navy, and under the guidance of Captain Luxman Amarasinghe, the Commanding Officer of the ship.

A Gun Salute is viewed as a gesture of respect, and the utmost honour of a 25-gun salute is exclusively reserved for the nation. Adhering to this long-standing tradition, the Sri Lanka Navy performed this ceremonial tribute from SLNS Sayura in alignment with the 76th Independence Day celebrations. This special event was also broadcast live through electronic media.

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. The same gesture has been reciprocated by cannon in coastal fortifications, to indicate the incoming ship that they are defused. It has become a custom over time.

In 1948, the Royal Navy had fired a 15- Gun Salute at the Galle Face Green on the first Independence Day. In the following year, it had been executed on board HMCyS ‘Vijaya’ using one cannon. Commencing from 1948, the Navy has uninterruptedly performed this military honour at the Galle Face initially, and on board ships as well as at Galle Buck Bay and Colombo Lighthouse subsequently.

On the 73rd Independence Day (2021), the Sri Lanka Navy honoured the nation by according a 25-gun-salute on board SLNS Samudura and on the 74th Independence Day (2022) on board SLNS Gajabahu. Last year (2023) the time-honoured naval custom was performed onboard SLNS Gajabahu for the 75th Independence Day.

Traditionally, the main mast of a ship is dressed with naval signal flags when a Gun Salute honour is presented. Accordingly, to prepare the vessel with flags for this ceremonial occasion, the main mast of SLNS Sayura had been dressed with signal flags denoting the phrase ‘25 Gun Salutes for the Nation’.

Bursts of gunfire presented from four 47mm guns fitted onboard SLNS Sayura rent the air in the city of Colombo, rekindling the national spirits. Meanwhile, the gunfire party comprised Commanding Officer SLNS Sayura Captain Luxman Amarasinghe, Executive Officer Commander Liyanage Viraj and Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Commander WMCP Witharana.

 

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