History of SL Navy
On August 31, 1939 at the outset of World War II, the CNVF was mobilised for war duties. Three years later, the CNVF was offered to, and accepted by the Royal Navy (RN) as a Volunteer Reserve, the Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (CRNVR). It continued under the Royal Navy operational and administrative command until March 1946.
With the end of the war, it reverted to Ceylon Government Control, though yet CRNVR in name. In the 1939-1946 period, the CRNVR carried out several operational duties, mainly at sea. Cutting its teeth on the Port Commission Tugs Samson and Goliath, it later manned and operated trawlers and Antarctic whalers converted as Minesweepers and fitted out with guns, submarine detection equipment and anti-submarine weaponry.
All were manned exclusively by CRNVR personnel. These ships were meant to sweep and guard the approaches to the harbours, but were often used on extended missions outside Ceylon waters. In the course of these operations, the ships came under enemy fire recovered essential information from Japanese Air Craft that where shot down, sailed to Akyab after the Burma front was opened in two FMVs for harbour duties and, was called upon to accept the surrender of the Italian Light Cruiser Eritrea and escort her to the Colombo port with a prize crew on board.
After Independence from British rule in 1948 the government believed a island nation should possess a strong Navy to be its first line of defence. Therefore, on December 9, 1950 the Royal Ceylon Navy was created with Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve forming the nucleus. The first war ship was commissioned HMCyS Vijaya an Algerian class Minesweeper, ex-HMS Flying Fish along with other patrol boats and tugs. Later, the fleet was expanded. During this time the Navy took part in several joint naval exercises and a goodwill mission visiting the Far East.
In 1972 the Dominion of Ceylon became the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Royal Ceylon Navy became the Sri Lanka Navy. The Naval Ensign along with the Flag Officers’ flags were redesigned. The term Captain of the Navy, introduced in the Navy Act, was changed to Commander of the Navy, in keeping with the terminology adopted by the other two services. Finally, Her Majesty’s Ceylon Ships (HMCyS) became Sri Lankan Naval Ships (SLNS).
Courtesy: www.nation.lk (06/12/2009)