Rapid Action Boats Squadron (RABS)


Rapid Action Boats Squadron Unit

The Rapid Action Boats Squadron is a force element squadron that provides expertise in small boats operations in support of littoral operations amphibious and riverine activities. The squadron is equipped with Inshore Patrol Craft and Arrow speed boat that provide high degree of firepower along with high speed and maneuverability.

When the LTTE Sea Tiger wing was formed in 1984, the fledgling insurgent force used small boats to ferry guerrilla fighters and their equipment by means of sea route from South India to Northern tip of Sri Lanka. Gradually the LTTE had begun using speed craft with more powerful engines which were able to ferry large shipment of weapons across the Palk Strait forcing SLN to look for an alternative solution. As a result the SLN purchased Israeli-built Fast Attack Craft (FACs) and utilized them in action in late 1980s. Since then Sea Tigers the encountered difficulties to meet challenges with these FACs. Subsequently, the LTTE developed high power suicide boats and used swarming tactics to overwhelm the FACs thereby the outfit was able to launch significant successful attacks against the SLN fleet. The very first suicidal attack of this nature was on 29 August 1993.

Gradually, the LTTE was improving and developing their tactics with the concept of cluster attack which comprises number of both suicidal and attack craft would mingle with fishermen or disguised as fishermen creating numerous difficulties to the SLN fleet units. These intense battles have taken place in close quarter thus making them fierce. These LTTE craft were manufactured and design with low profile high speed maneuverability and were capable of projecting heavy fire power. During this era the SLN fleet units found it difficult to counter such threat from the LTTE Sea Tiger wing thereby encountered number of losses and damages.The LTTE Sea Tiger wing launched most of their attack in littoral waters where even FACs experienced difficulties in operating due to navigational hazards.

The LTTE's small boats could be operated conveniently in shallow waters and are highly maneuverable and capable of moving fast thus launching surprise attack on the SLN vessels, particularly on large vessels. This scenario posed a huge challenge and threat for sea units of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) and major ports which are considered to be economi hubs such as Colombo, Trincomalee, Kankasanthurai, Galle etc. were also constantly under LTTE suicidal threat during more than 3 decades of nasty war against the LTTE.

Owing to such scenario the SLN was convinced, after extensive research studies that the most appropriate solution to counter such threat scenario was to form a flotilla of small boats which has speed, maneuverability and capable of projecting superior fire power thereby deterring the enemy and countering such attacks effectively.This resulted to form Rapid Action Boat Squadron under the able directive of the then Commander of the Navy Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda in year 2007. On 01st March 2007 the first ever basic training of the RABS was conducted for 05 officers and 18 sailors at SLNS Vijaya ( at NSU Baththalangunduwa) under the supervision of Commodore Rohan Amarasinghe who was the first director of the squadron. During initial training, RABS personnel were attached to SBS HQ, NAD and FAF 4 in Trincomalee, where they have under gone specific training in respective modules such as weapon training, boat maneuvering and joint operations particularly with FACs and IPCs , Physical training ,Combat medicine, Swimming etc.

During this period, the need of newly formed squadron was at its peak, hence craft of the squadron were equipped with modern weaponries and accessories such as GPS, IR Strobe, SART, night vision goggles, VHF head set with headgears within a short period of time. Meanwhile a special uniform package was also introduced thus giving them peculiar recognition.

Introduction of Rapid Resonse Relief & Resue Unit

Sri Lanka Navy traditionally involves in emergency response operations during water-related hazards in the country. It is in this backdrop, the naval personnel play a major role in flood conditions. The involvement of the Navy during natural disasters got intensified with the end of humanitarian operation conducted to stabilize the country under a peaceful environment.

The need for a specialized rescue unit in the Sri Lanka Navy had become a necessity to respond to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and support civilian population in need. The sea going arm fulfilled most of these prerequisites in this regard being a well-qualified and structured security force, equipped with resources and skilled personnel. The idea for a dedicated unit to swiftly respond during natural disasters existed at all times and it was highlighted in year 2011 as floods wreaked havoc island wide. Accordingly, Sri Lanka Navy initiated action to form a specialized unit absorbing specially trained personnel to be deployed in the face of natural calamities. That gave birth to the Rapid Response Rescue and Relief Squadron (4RS) which was renamed as the Rapid Response Rescue and Relief Unit (4RU) recently.

Vision of Rapid Action Boats Squodron Unit

Preservation of sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security of Sri Lanka through offensive and defensive small boat operations in territorial coastal, internal and inland waters.

Vision of Rapid Respons Rescue & Relief Unit

Ensure the safety of men and protection of property from water related natural disasters in Sri Lanka, through emergency response operations.