Sri Lanka Coast Guard

The Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) (Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකා වෙරළාරක්ෂක දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව, romanized: Śrī Laṃkā veralārakshaka depārtamēntuwa; Tamil: இலங்கை கடலோர பாதுகாப்பு) is a Sri Lankan non-ministerial government department tasked with coast guard duties within the territorial waters of Sri Lanka. It comes under the purview of the Ministry of Defence and is staffed by civilian personnel.[1] The current Director General of the SLCG is Rear Admiral Samantha Wimalathunga.[2][3]

Sri Lanka Coast Guard
ශ්‍රී ලංකා වෙරළාරක්ෂක දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව
இலங்கை கடலோர பாதுகாப்பு
Sri Lanka Coast Guard crest
CountrySri Lanka
TypeCoast Guard
Part ofMinistry of Defence
Motto(s)Serene Sea
AnniversariesCoast Guard Day: 4 March
Director GeneralRear Admiral Samantha Wimalathunga
Deputy Director GeneralCommodore Y.M.G.B Jayathilake
Racing stripe

Initially established in the late 1990s, the department was disbanded in 2002, with responsibilities passing to the Coast Conservation Department. The department in its current form was reestablished through the Department of Coast Guard Act, No. 41 of 2009 and inaugurated on 4 March 2010. It is a non-military law enforcement agency at sea, with every officer regarded as a peace officer for the purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No. 15 of 1979. The department has legal authority to search and arrest ships, craft and personnel engaged in illegal activity in maritime zones and the territorial waters of Sri Lanka, and to initiate legal proceedings against offenders.


The Sri Lanka Coast Guard was first established in 1999, when 75 servicepersons were recruited Officers, Sergeants and Mariners; at the same time, construction of vessels for the coast guard began at the Neil Marine and Ceynor boatyards. On 1 August of the following year, the cabinet approved a paper appointing a retired Naval officer, Lieutenant commander C. R. Bulegoda Arachchi, as head of the Coast Guard. The government then began drafting the Sri Lanka Coast Guard Act based on counterparts from other nations in the region. 2001 saw the basic training of Coast Guard personnel begin at the navy's base at Welisara, SLNS Gemunu; professional training took place at the Japanese Coast Guard Training Center in Tokyo. Six small vessels for the SLCG were launched at the fishery harbour in Beruwala: Coast Guard Vessel Mahiraja was put in charge of search and rescue, CGVs Ruhunu and Maya were assigned to the protection of coastal fisheries, and CGVs Kadira, Giruvaya and Maagama were placed on general duty. Less than a year later, on 31 March 2002, the newly elected government decided to abolish the department, transferring all assets and personnel to the Coast Conservation Department.

In 2009, the Minister of Defence President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented a cabinet paper suggesting the reestablishment of the Coast Guard, leading to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard Coast Guard Act, No. 41 of 2009 being enacted by parliament on 9 July 2009. The SLCG was thus reestablished in its current form seven years after its initial disbanding.

Recent developments have largely been centered on expansion of operational capabilities, with Japan forming a partnership with the SLCG in 2016 to secure trade routes in the Indian Ocean, particularly those used by oil tankers from the Middle East. As part of this partnership, Japan provided funds for patrol ships.[4][5] The Sri Lankan Government also placed a $180 million order for three 85-meter offshore patrol vessels from Colombo Dockyard in 2017, capable of both deep- and shallow water operations.[6]

Role and responsibilities

Part II of the Coast Guard Act lists the following as functions of the SLCG:[7]

  • Prevent illegal fishing in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka, and protect fishermen, rendering whatever assistance is needed at sea,
  • Assist the Sri Lanka Customs and other authorities to combat anti-smuggling and anti-immigration operations,
  • Prevent and manage piracy,
  • Cooperate with law enforcement and the armed forces in anti-terror measures in the maritime zones and territorial waters of the country,
  • Prevent the cross-border movement of narcotics by sea,
  • Assist in ensuring the safety of life and property at sea,
  • Participate in search and rescue operations in times of natural catastrophe and assist in salvage operations after such catastrophes and other accidents at sea,
  • Assist in the preservation and protection of the maritime and marine environment, including the implementation and monitoring of measures required for the prevention and control of marine pollution and other disasters which occur at sea, and in the conservation of marine species,
  • Disseminate information including warnings by radio or any other means in times of natural catastrophes, and
  • Perform any additional/auxiliary functions that may be temporarily assigned to it by the State.

In order to carry out these functions, the Coast Guard is given the authority to:[7]

  • Stop, enter, board, inspect and search any place, structure,vessel or aircraft and arrest and detain any such vessel or aircraft,
  • Demand, make copies- or take extracts of any license, permit, record, certificate or any other document for inspection,
  • Investigate any offence which it has reason to believe is being committed or is about to be committed or has been committed,
  • Exercise the right of hot pursuit,
  • Examine and seize or dispose of any fish or any article, device, goods, vessel, aircraft or any other item relating to any offence which has been committed or it has reasonable grounds to believe that such offence has been committed, and
  • Arrest any person whom it has reason to believe has committed an offence under any written law of Sri Lanka currently in force.


The Coast Guard have a base or outpost in Wellawatta (national headquarters), Mirissa (regional headquarters- South), Dikovita, Dehiwala, Mount Lavinia, Panadura, Beruwala, Aluthgama, Balapitiya, Ambalangoda, Kirinda and Kankasanturai (regional headquarters- North). Some of these, particularly those in areas frequented by tourists, also function as lifeguard posts; the SLCG has lifeguard posts at:

  • Galle Face
  • Wellawatta
  • Mount Lavinia
  • Panadura
  • Aluthgama
  • Balapitiya
  • Mirissa
  • Polhena-Matara
  • Kirinda
  • Nilaveli (2 points)
  • Dehiwala

The SLCG base at Balapitiya hosts a training center that conducts professional- and lifesaving training to its servicepersons. Mirissa hosts the Coast Guard Turtle Conservation Project, launched in September 2012. Aiming to preserve the country's sea turtle population and raise awareness of their conservation, it also supplies scientific data related to turtle behaviour (nesting, hatchlings, feeding, mating) to researchers in the field.[8]

Rank structure

The Sri Lanka Coast Guard's rank structure closely follows that of the Navy.

Commissioned officer ranks

NATO code
OF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D) and student officer
Sri Lanka No equivalent
No equivalent
Rear admiral Commodore Captain Commander Lieutenant Commander Lieutenant Sub-lieutenant

Other ranks

NATO code
Sri Lanka No equivalent No equivalent
Master chief
petty officer
Senior chief
petty officer
Petty Officer
Petty officer Leading rating Able Rate Ordinary Rate


Current vessels

Vessels belonging to the Sri Lankan Coast Guard bear the prefix "CG".

Class Picture Origin Type Quantity Displacement Vessels Comment
Offshore patrol vessels (2)
Vikram-class  IndiaOffshore patrol vessels21180 tonsSLCG SurakshaCommissioned in 2017
Future Offshore patrol vessels (3)
VARD 7 085  Sri LankaOffshore patrol vessels31900 tonsThe Sri Lankan cabinet approved a $180 million order for three OPVs built at the Colombo Dockyard to a Vard 7 85 metre design. Two similar vessels were built for the New Zealand navy as the Protector-class offshore patrol vessel[6][9][10]
Patrol boats
30m Type Patrol Boat  JapanPatrol Boat2123 tonsSLCG 501 Samudraraksha
SLCG 502 Samaraksha
Range- 750 nautical miles.
Built by Sumidagawa Shipyard, Tokyo[11]
Comes equipped with pollution control equipment and the ability to contain and disperse oil spills.[12]
Stabicraft  AustraliaPatrol Boat3-[13]
Colombo-class  Sri LankaFast Patrol Craft1052/56 tonsBuilt by Colombo Dockyard
Inshore Patrol Crafts  Sri LankaInshore Patrol Crafts10Built by Sri Lanka Navy and Colombo Dockyard[14]


  1. Kirinde, Chandani (5 July 2009). "Coastguard to get sweeping powers". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  2. "Rear Admiral Samantha Wimalathunge has been appointed as new Director General of Sri Lanka Coast Guard". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  3. "India, Sri Lanka Coast Guards agree to collaborate in combatting transnational illegal activities at sea". ColomboPage. 12 May 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  4. "The Japanese government is to provide patrol ships to Sri Lanka". Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. 24 August 2014. Archived from the original on 27 August 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  5. "Japan to provide 45 bn Yen loan under comprehensive partnership-Updated". Lanka Business Online. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  6. "Colombo Dockyard to get US$180mn Sri Lanka patrol vessel deal". economynext. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  7. "Department of Coast Guard Act, No. 41 OF 2009" (PDF). Government of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  8. "Sri Lanka Coast Guard - TURTLE CONSERVATION BY SRI LANKA COAST GUARD". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  9. "Sri Lanka approves $180 mln vessel deal for Colombo Dockyard". Thomson Reuters. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  10. "VARD 7 085" (PDF). VARD. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  11. "Japan provides new Patrol Boat to strengthen maritime security". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  12. "Two 'made-in-Japan' FPVs bolster Sri Lanka Coast Guard". the Sunday Times. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  13. "Australia endows SLCG with Stabicraft vessels". Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  14. ""For a Secured and Peaceful Country": 2016 Performance Report" (PDF). Parliament of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
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