Navy Commander calls for common global maritime domain

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga graced the opening of the 2017 Galle Dialogue at Galle Face Hotel yesterday and was invited to light the traditional oil lamp along with Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Travis Sinniah, Army Commander Lt.Gen. Mahesh Senanayake and Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundera. Picture by Roshan Pitipana

Navy Commander Vice Admiral Travis Sinniah called for the establishment of a common global maritime domain to share real time maritime information between the navies of the world.

“An information sharing web aiding in detecting and disseminating information from the sea in real time”, suggested the Navy Commander would be an effective tool in governing the ocean and maritime boundaries of states.

Real time information, said Vice Admiral Sinniah was an important deterrent for terrorist activity and a vital tool in defeating crime in the ocean.

He also advocated for a mechanism for fusing, collecting and analysing information from technical and other sources.

This was in addition to the need to combine legacy systems with current and emerging capabilities.

The Commander delivering the opening remarks at the 8th Galle Dialogue held at Galle Face Hotel yesterday reiterated the call for sharing of maritime information; a contentious and persistent issue in the maritime domain.

This year’s conference with representations from 51 countries and 12 organizations dealt with the theme of ‘Greater Maritime Visibility for Enhanced Maritime Security’. “Despite greater surveillance and gathering of intelligence, the oceans are still exploited for a plethora of illegal activities by state and non-state actors,” said Vice Admiral Sinnaih as he explained that this was a result of many ‘gaps’ and ‘ungoverned spaces’ remaining unchecked in the global commons.

‘Sri Lanka’s Navy which has a tough task of protecting an island state with a territorial sea of 21,500 km2 and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastal line an extent of 517,000 km2, faces many blind spots at sea,” the Navy Commander said.The Navy commander thus called for a change in mindset among nations to be more cooperative and collaborative with their information and hoped that negotiations held at a tactical level at the conference would lead to policy level changes. “In today’s economy, oceans have a great significance… and a peaceful, tranquil and secure Indian ocean is necessary to Sri Lanka’s prosperity,” said Vice Admiral Sinniah.

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