Sri Lanka to deploy Navy ship on Red Sea amidst rising Houthi threats.
By: Staff Writer
January 05, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka government is to deploy a ship from the Sri Lanka Navy on the Red Sea area, extending support for the strengthening of security in the region against Houthi activities.
The decision of President Ranil Wickremesinghe has been taken amidst rising concerns among international shipping companies regarding attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi militants in the Red Sea.
President Wickremesinghe noted that Sri Lanka will provide a Navy vessel to fight attacks by Houthi rebels on merchant ships in the Red Sea, joining countries like India in protecting the key waterway for global trade.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched more than 20 attacks on merchant ships in recent weeks, claiming to take revenge against Israel for its military campaign against Palestinian terror group Hamas in Gaza.
President Wickremesinghe, who holds the defence ministry portfolio, noted that merchant shipping was hit by Houthi attacks at the Red Sea and said if the ships were to be diverted and re-routed around South Africa, the voyages would become much more expensive.
This could create (an) escalation of the cost of goods. “So we have agreed to send a Naval vessel to combat Houthi attacks in the Red Sea,” he said.
The Houthis claim to be retaliating against Israel’s military campaign in support of Hamas.
This ongoing disruption in the Red Sea has resulted in increased freight costs and delayed delivery times.
The government will have to bear the cost of US$ 200 million for deploying and maintaining a ship from the Sri Lanka Navy on the Red Sea area,
Although it was announced as a commitment to safeguard maritime navigation and contribute to regional stability, the heavy cost for the Navy vessel will be a burden for the Sri Lankan taxpayers, political and defence analysts said.
The president outlined the apparent risks to global trade posed by the Houthi rebels and highlighted the importance of Sri Lanka’s contribution to regional stability.
The naval deployment is portrayed as a proactive measure to address potential disruptions to maritime commerce, underlining Sri Lanka’s role as a responsible player in the international community, informed sources said.
The government defends the expenditure, claiming that it is a necessary investment in national security and the protection of economic interests.
Officials emphasized the need of maintaining open and secure sea lanes for Sri Lanka’s trade, which heavily relies on maritime routes.
However, defence analysts question the urgency of the naval deployment, suggesting that alternative diplomatic and economic measures could achieve similar objectives without the excessive cost.