A new batch of soldiers joined the Navy's Special Boat Squadron (SBS) after the passing out parade held at Nipuna advanced naval training center in Boossa yesterday. SBS is the navy's elite formation equivalent to the army's Special Forces regiment and is modeled after the likes of Special Boat Service of the Royal Navy and S.E.A.L. of the U.S. Navy.
Image: Soldiers of the SBS taking part in the Independence Day Parade - 2007
SBS is a somewhat recent addition to the SLN. It was established in 1993 with 75 sailors and three officers. By 2008 SBS has grown into a fully fledged fighting formation specialized in maritime counter-terrorism, recovery of hijacked vessels, deep penetration attacks, amphibious assaults, underwater demolitions, VIP protection, beach reconnaissance and combat swimmer missions. Although the unit is formally under SLN command, it has on many occasions carried out coordinated strikes with the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) against the Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
SBS was extensively used during the 2nd and 3rd Eelam War in almost every major military operation. They are noted for spearheading the difficult operation that helped recapture of Pooneryn SLN base which the tigers had just overrun. However SBS's last major operation in the 3rd Eelam War, Operation Agni Kheela, was a disaster. The politically motivated operation resulted in the death of nearly 300 soldiers and SBS too suffered heavy casualties.
In the 4th Eelam war SBS has largely been used to attack and hunt down LTTE elements in the jungles north of Trincomalee. Some SBS teams also took part in several Blue water missions of the navy that targeted LTTE arms ships. SBS has vastly improved under the command of Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and scored some major successes with their eastern operations.
Now with the CFA officially dead and at a time when SLA had publicly laid siege to Wanni, SBS will again have a busy time on their hands.