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US navy ship docks in Colombo ‘further strengthening partnership’



The US Navy's 7th fleet flag ship "Blue Ridge" docked in Colombo on Saturday, as part of a visit designed to strengthen relations with Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan navy troops saluted the US ship as it pulled in to port, with the Chief of Staff of the US Navy's 7th fleet Vice Admiral Aucoin visiting the Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne at the Naval Headquarters.

Staff Sergeant Christopher Buch, Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) Operations Chief, said the visit was “a great opportunity for our Marines to work with and interact with the Sri Lankan Marines.”

It's going to allow us to demonstrate and share some of our tactics,” he said.

Also present to board the ship was US Ambassador Atul Keshap, who said the visit was “further strengthening (the) US Partnership”.

He was joined by Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US Prasad Kariyawasam, known for his criticism of a UN report outlining mass atrocities on the island (see here, here and here).


.@US7thFleet's command ship @USSBlueRidge enters #Colombo port, further strengthening US Partnership with #SriLanka pic.twitter.com/ZUrvhA2GM3

— Amb Atul Keshap (@USAmbKeshap) 26 March 2016

“Our crew onboard Blue Ridge, coupled with the 7th Fleet team, are uniquely poised to get this relationship moving in the right direction and being very positive about it,” said Captain Kyle P Higgins, Blue Ridge commanding officer. “I’m excited for this engagement and consider it relatively historic in the very large, strategic scheme of the Navy.”

The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence reported that “special training programmes” have been organised for Sri Lankan troops.

Amongst the activities that took place was a special concert with the Sri Lankan armed forces, described by the US Embassy in a tweet as an "amazing evening of sweet music".


What a high! Amazing evening of sweet music together w/@USNavy and #SriLanka Navy, Army & Air Force pic.twitter.com/KHCkqWAO0g

— U.S. Embassy Colombo (@USEmbSL) March 26, 2016


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