UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Sri Lanka Navy - Trincomalee Harbor

Trincomalee HarborTrincomalee Harbor is home to major Sri Lankan naval bases and a Sri Lankan Air Force base. Trincomalee Harbor - a natural deep-water harbor - is at least the fifth largest natural harbor in the world. Some say it is the second best natural harbor in the world [next to Sydney]. The available water and land area is about 10 times as much as the Port of Colombo. The Bay of Trincomalee's harbor is renowned for its large size and security; unlike every other in the Indian Sea, it is accessible to all types of craft in all weathers.

The port city of Trincomalee was the main base and shore headquarters of Eastern Fleet, British Royal Navy during World War II. On the recommendation of the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Supreme Allied Commander in South-East Asia Lord Earl Mountbatten shifted his headquarters to Kandy in August 1944, and Trincomalee was built as a fleet base. In December 1944 the Allied submarine fleet moved in. A huge 100 tank oil storage facility and the Naval Dock Yard were developed during the period.

Trincomalee Harbor, formerly a British Naval Base, was taken over by the Sri Lankan Government in 1956 to be developed as a Commercial Port. The base in Trincomalee was fitted out to perform slipway repairs for the Navy. At both Colombo and Trincomallee, a shortage of qualified maintenance personnel continued to hamper effective Naval repair work in the 1980s.

General training for officers and ratings was provided at the Naval and Maritime Academy in Trincomalee in the 1980s. The academy was established in 1967, and offered a fifteen-month basic course in navigation, seamanship, and engineering. Seamen were given practical training on commercial cargo ships. For postgraduate technical training, recruits were sent overseas, mainly to India, Pakistan, Australia, the United States, and Britain.

Trincomalee had attracted great sea farers like Marco Polo, Ptolemy and Sea Traders China and East Asia from the ancient times. The long and wide beaches offer surfing, scuba diving and fishing and whale watching. The city also has the largest Dutch fort in Sri Lanka.

Trincomalee is an anglicized version of the Tamil word Tirukonamalai (lit "lord of the sacred hill"); it is a hill situated in the end of a natural land formation that resembles an arc. The ancient texts, as well as an inscription unearthed by archeologists, call it Gokarna in Sanskrit. The Vayu Purana refers to a Siva temple on Trikuta hill on the eastern coast of Lanka in the 3rd century. The Mahavamsa documents that the King Mahasena destroyed a Deva temple and built a Buddhist shrine in its stead to expiate for an earlier heresy on his part.  #1# This explains the Buddhist archeological remains in the region. The South Indian Tevaram of Tiru-gnana Sambandar makes mention to the Siva temple in Trincomalee once again in the 6th century.

Trincomalee's strategic importance has shaped its recent history. The great European powers vied for mastery of the harbor. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, and the English, each held it in turn, and there have been many sea battles nearby. The harbor is overlooked by terraced highlands, its entrance is guarded by two headlands, and there is a carriage road along its northern and eastern edges.

Trincomalee's location, in a less well developed and sparsely populated area, has in the past hampered its own development. Nevertheless plans are under way to develop Trincomalee as a commercial seaport.

The harbor itself has 2 segments, Inner Harbour and Outer Harbour. The outer harbour is composed of the Trincomalee Bay, which has the approaches to the Harbour and Koddiyar Bay in to which the Mahaweli drains. At the place where the Mahaweli follows in to the bay there is a deep submarine canyon which runs into a depth of 400m in about 4000 ft. from the shore, Depths of 10m are reached at a distance of less than 300m from the coast.

The Inner Harbor is defined by latitude 8 30` N and longitude 81 15` E and commands a water area of approximately 2000 Ha and a land area of approximately 2500 Ha. The harbour is flanked by high cliffs on the seaside. It is therefore, well protected from the monsoon winds. The sheltered water of the harbor is capable of accommodating a large number of vessels and offer water depths that is suitable for movement and berthing of small, medium sized and large deep drafted cargo ships, oil tankers and supertankers.

At present, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) runs the complete administrative control of the harbour and the environment except for the Naval yard in the Northern slopes of the Ostenburg Ridge and a few pockets in the town and China Bay occupied by the Army and the Air Force. In 1983, some 6000 acres of land mainly crown land, bounded in the North by Dambulla-Trincomalee highway, in the West by Palampattar waterway and in the South and the East by the sea up to Southern edge of Yard Cove had been vested with the SLPA.

Trincomalee was tentatively identified to cater for bulk and break bulk cargo and port related industrial activities including heavy industries, tourism and agriculture etc. At present SLPA is in the process to re-develop Trincomalee as a metropolis growth center. SLPA has completed zoning plan to utilize the huge amount of existing unutilized land under its judurisition on the out come of the analysis with the other sectors of the development, such as UDA, BOI, and Tourist Board etc. SLPA plans to advertise internationally and locally to call for proposals from potential investors for Industrial Park and Tourism Zone under Trincomalee Port City Development Project. Drafting of the RFP has been assigned to a Project Committee and in the process of calling tenders for the surveying of the SLPA owned lands.

Trincomalee harbour being one of Asia's biggest natural harbours, used for ship lay-up during downturns in the shipping market before the outbreak of the ethnic war in the early 1980s. In 2009 the SLPA was holding talks with the defence authorities on using the eastern port of Trincomalee for laying up ships. The worst hit by the downturn were container ships and bulk carriers with tankers also getting affected because of the lower oil market. Shipping industry officials said the country can earn fees for laying up vessels and also providing services to maintain the ships until they are recalled for service when the market recovers.

The demand for ship lay-up arose with the collapse in the shipping market caused partly by the global economic crisis which has reduced trade and partly by a huge over-supply of vessels. Shipping lines seek to lay up their vessels when it becomes uneconomic to operate them when the slump in the market hits earnings because of reduced demand, delivery of new vessels and fewer ships being scrapped. With charter rates plunging and earnings poor, loss-making shipping lines are scrambling to pull ships out of the market and lay them up until the market recovers. Some container lines have almost a quarter of their ship capacity in lay-up with the average figure being nine percent for the top 24 container lines. The situation was so bad that some newly built vessels headed straight for lay-up. Countries such as Malaysia had been successful in promoting some of their anchorages for ship lay-up.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 05-05-2012 19:19:11 ZULU