The U.S. Department of State has officially informed Congress about its intent to transfer a fourth medium endurance cutter/ship to Sri Lanka. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Richard Verma, expressed optimism pending Congress’ notification period completion. The proposed transfer aims to bolster defense cooperation, reinforcing Sri Lanka’s ability to patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone and enhance maritime security in the bustling Indian Ocean.

During his visit, Deputy Secretary Verma engaged in high-level discussions with President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry. Emphasizing the U.S. commitment to Sri Lanka’s economic growth, talks also revolved around deepening defense ties and maritime cooperation. The focus is on empowering the Sri Lanka Navy to safeguard national security and contribute to a stable Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking from the SLNS Vijayabahu, one of three former U.S. Coast Guard cutters previously transferred, Deputy Secretary Verma announced the Department’s commitment of $9 million in Foreign Military Financing to support the effort. This potential transfer aligns with the shared goal of countering human trafficking, drug trafficking, and supporting humanitarian and disaster response efforts.

Participating in the announcement at Colombo Port were Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Defense, Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung. Ambassador Chung emphasized the historical cooperation, citing the significant role of the three previously transferred cutters in maritime operations.

Should the Congress approval process conclude, the transfer of this fourth vessel would mark another milestone in the enduring collaboration between Sri Lanka and the United States, reinforcing a free and open Indo-Pacific region.