Sri Lanka supplies logistics to US aircraft carrier in Indian Ocean Region; balances ties with China

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NEW DELHI: Sri Lanka, notwithstanding its ties with China, in a major step emerged as logistics supply hub for a US warship in the Indian Ocean Region indicating that Colombo is willing to balance its ties with Beijing.

US aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) received supplies as part of a temporary cargo transfer initiative in Sri Lanka, beginning Jan. 24. This has symbolism value given increase in PLA presence in the Indian Ocean Region.

India has been worried with growing Chinese Navy presence in Lankan waters and closer to Lankan waters. Hambantota Port in Southern Sri Lanka has potential to emerge as a Chinese base in future. China is also involved in Colombo port city project as well. India on its part will be present in Hambantota airport and Trincomalee port besides other ongoing projects. It is no secret that Lanka is reeling under Chinese debt as the island nation is placed as a key pillar in Beijing’s BRI.

“A C-2A Greyhound carrier onboard delivery aircraft from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 operated from Bandaranaike International Airport near Colombo. The C-2A received a variety of supplies transferred earlier in the week from a U.S. Navy C-40A Clipper logistics aircraft and then flown back to John C. Stennis, which is outside Sri Lankan territorial waters,” wrote Lt. Cmdr. Jessica Anderson, onboard USS John C. Stennis, in an article titled ‘USS John C. Stennis transfers supplies from Sri Lanka’

Supplies included spare parts, tools, personal mail, paper goods, and other items. “Support services went well during our first stop in Sri Lanka in early December 2018,” said, Lt. Cmdr. Brett Learner, officer in charge, VRC-30. “The opportunity to conduct a temporary cargo transfer in Colombo for a second time provides a resource in a strategic location in the Indian Ocean that we can leverage while in the area.”

“The temporary cargo transfer initiative facilitates airstrips and short-term storage facilities to receive large-scale shipments to move out in various directions in smaller shipments, allowing ships to continue operating at sea by receiving the right material at the right place and time. The initiative promotes Sri Lanka’s growing role as a regional hub for logistics and commerce. The cargo transfer conducted in January contributed approximately 25 million Sri Lankan rupees to the local economy, supporting local businesses,” the article noted.

“Sri Lanka’s leaders have outlined their vision for the country’s regional engagement that reflects its location at the nexus of the Indo-Pacific and seizes the opportunities that this unique position presents,” said U.S. Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz. “We are happy to support this vision through a range of mutually beneficial initiatives, such as contracting Sri Lankan services and goods to support U.S. military and commercial vessels that often transit the Indo-Pacific’s busy sea lanes.”

No cargo, military equipment, or personnel associated with this initiative will remain in Sri Lanka after completion of the cargo transfers, according to Lt. Cmdr. Anderson.





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