In our defence
Avant Garde Maritime Services tell their side of the
The Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd has denied all
allegations leveled against them on discrepancies in the consignment of
weapons and ammunition on the MV Avant Garde ship. In a recent press
statement, MV Avant Garde owner, Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt)
Ltd. (AGMS), said that the daily updated inventory was maintained by
Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited (RALL) representatives on board and it
'tallies exactly with the details available with the RALL armoury'.
The AGMS statement was signed by Major General Rohan Kaduwela, Head
of Secretariat (AGMS operations).
Currently, the investigation is continuing under the Criminal
Investigations Department, over the MV Avante Grade ship's alleged
unauthorised entry into the Galle Harbour.
As Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi stated, the Ministry of
Defence (MOD) had filed a case with the Criminal Investigations
Department (CID), a week ago, against the AGMS, alleging that the
private security provider entered the Galle Harbour without prior
approval from the Ministry. The MV Avant Garde is the floating armoury
owned by the AGMS located at the Red sea.
RALL sources said that their company was coordinating the transaction
and the letter requesting the approval for the ship's entry to the Galle
Harbour was forwarded to the Ministry of Defence, on be half of the AGMS.
The company alleged that due to series of events that took place in
January 2015 which lead to the baseless detention of another floating
armoury in Galle - MV Mahanuwara, caused many Private Maritime Security
Companies (PMSCs) who had been their reliable clients to 'abandon Avant
Garde and migrate to alternative solutions greatly reducing the business
of the Avant Garde.'
According to the statement, the MV Avant Garde had to be withdrawn
from the Red Sea and return to Sri Lanka as a result of the business
Denying allegations levelled against them the AGMS officials stated
that the discrepancy had taken place when another local agent
representing a foreign PMSC, forwarded a letter seeking approval on
behalf of three sea marshals who were on MV Avant Garde at that time.
Explaining the situation, AGMS stated that on leaving the Red Sea
they were requested to 'embark and return' three Sri Lankan Sea
Marshals, employed by the PMSC.The local agent of the PMSC, to
expeditiously disembark the three Sea Marshal has submitted a request to
the DHM Galle and has entered wrong details.
As the AGMS stated this responsibility does not come under the local
agent of the PMSC but it is of the ship's local agent, who is the Sri
Lanka Shipping Ltd.
They allege this was the error that lead to the consequences they are
currently facing and denies any delays in applying for approval to enter
Contradicting the version given by the Ministry of Defence, the AGMS
said in the press statement, that they have requested the approval to
enter the Galle Harbour by letter through the Rakna Arakshaka Lanka
"The vessel left the Red Sea on September 24 and at the same time a
letter was originated seeking approval of RALL to transfer the
consignment of weapons, ammunition and associated equipment to its
armoury at Galle once the ship arrived at Galle (Chairman Avant Garde
letter No.AST/STP/13 dated September 24 2015).
And the company alleged that the ship remained in the international
waters outside Sri Lanka's territorial waters and away from Galle port
limits awaiting the approval, since issuing the approval was not been
prompt as it should have been, according to the statement.
The company continued to say that even though this is an usual
practice of many ships on waiting for approval, for good order they kept
Chairman of the RALL, Victor Samaraweera, Secretary RALL D.R.M.
Ranatunga, Presidential Advisor on Maritime Affairs Admiral Jayantha
Perera and Senior Additional Secretary MOD D.M.S. Dissanayake.
According to the AGMS they have received the MOD approval on October
6, 2015 by 9.45 morning - letter No. MODUD/CS/FA/AT dated October 6,
Commenting on the Sri Lanka Navy boarding on the ship 30 minutes
before the receipt of the letter the AGMS stated that the action was
shocking in view of it being informed regularly of the progress.