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Sunday, 25 October 2015

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In our defence

Avant Garde Maritime Services tell their side of the latest controversy:

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).


 colombogazette.com

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.

Transaction

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According to the statement, the MV Avant Garde had to be withdrawn from the Red Sea and return to Sri Lanka as a result of the business becoming untenable.

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 the harbour.

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 Limited (RALL).

"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.

Approval

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, 2015.

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.

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