Ravindra C Wijegunaratne

Admiral Ravindra C Wijegunaratne who retired from the Sri Lanka Navy after serving as the Chief of Defence Staff, is Managing Director of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and Chairman of Trincomalee Petroleum Terminals Ltd.

Anchorage: Home for Brave Sailors Wounded in Action


In commemoration of Ranaviru month, a time dedicated to honouring the sacrifices made by military and police personnel for the country, we turn our attention to a remarkable story of resilience and compassion. Today, we shine a light on “Anchorage,” a permanent home for two critically wounded sailors located at Walisara, Sri Lanka. This facility serves as a sanctuary for naval personnel who have sustained severe disabilities in the line of duty.

Anchorage, an exquisite eco-friendly building constructed by the Navy Civil Engineers, stands proudly adjacent to the Aqua Golf Driving Range, providing a scenic view of the lake. It was made possible through generous funding by the SLN Seva Wanitha Unit and was officially inaugurated by the then Navy Commander, Admiral Piyal De Silva, on July 1, 2020.

This sanctuary is now home to two sailors who were wounded in separate incidents while bravely serving their nation. Leading Seaman (SBS) B M R K Basnayaka, a member of the elite Special Boats Squadron, suffered critical injuries on November 10, 1995, during an operation off Illankanthai, Trincomalee. Petty Officer M D N W Piyasingha of the Fast Attack Craft Squadron, also critically wounded, endured his injuries on September 16, 2001, off Point Padró, Jaffna. Both sailors, due to spinal injuries, have lost mobility below the waist and require assistance in their daily activities.

Tragically, as these sailors fought to defend their country, they also had to face the loss of their parents. Being bachelors and with their siblings’ children growing up and venturing into their own lives, the sailors found it increasingly challenging to manage on their own. Recognizing their plight, the Sri Lanka Navy took the noble initiative of constructing Anchorage, a safe haven where these war heroes could receive the care and support they deserve until their last days. The Navy’s dedication and compassion deserve applause.

The devoted staff at Anchorage ensures that both WIA sailors receive daily exercises, physiotherapy sessions, necessary medical care, and assistance with daily routines. They also arrange short trips for them in a specially designed van, allowing them to visit their relatives on a monthly basis. Additionally, the sailors are provided with proper nutrition and remuneration, but it is the appreciation and support from the community that truly motivates them to live fulfilling life.

As we observe Ranaviru month, let us remember and honour the sacrifices made by our military and police personnel. Anchorage stands as a testament to the enduring gratitude we owe to those who have selflessly served our nation, ensuring the peace and security we enjoy today.

What I learnt from the War Hero’s Son


‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.’ — Mother Teresa

My mobile phone rang a few years back when I was chief of defence staff. It’s a number I have not saved. I answered the call. A faint voice of a young child on the other end. “Sir I am Wikum, Son of Chief Petty Officer K G Shantha.” Yes Son! I replied. Late Chief Petty Officer KG Shantha was from elite Special Boats Squadron (SBS), the Naval Commando Unit who paid the supreme sacrifice out at sea in Point Pedro on 1st Nov 2008.

His wife was four months pregnant when Shantha died. This child never saw his father alive.

“Sir, I have a good news for you. I have passed the Grade 5 Scholarship exam with 165 marks.” The child continues, “My mother wants me to convey this news to you and all other SBS members.”

“Well done son! All SBS uncles will be very happy with your achievement. Please visit my office with your mother this week after school. I have a small gift for you” I said. It is always a delightful news to hear our fallen War Heroes Children doing well in their lives. The void created by the loss of their fathers always affects them. In that sense, young Wikum’s achievement is remarkable. Sitting in my office, my mind ran back to 2008.

Our Navy outmanoeuvring and destroying LTTE Sea tiger boats at rapid phase by mid-2008. All their ocean-going capabilities were destroyed and littoral battles were intense and deadly. To save their pride and capabilities, LTTE Sea-Tigers turned towards their ultimatum weapon out at sea, the suicide boats. Navy response with our small boats Squadrons of SBS and Rapid Action Boats Squadron (RABS) was very effective against this huge Suicide Boats threat.

Chief Pettey Officer KG Shantha, PWV [Sri Lanka Navy]

On 1st Nov 2008 early hours, a Sea battle erupted between Navy and Sea-Tigers off Point Pedro. A number of LTTE Boats were destroyed and Navy also had casualties. Petty Officer KG Shantha from SBS, was commanding the Arrow boat Z-142. He had three more SBS members on board. His boat was fitted with a 23mm gun which they used very effectively against the enemy. (When you fight out at sea there is no cover. Whoever fires effectively first will win the battle.)

By 05.45 AM, KG (Shantha) had all three of his crew injured due to enemy fire. Squadron Commander ordered him to withdraw to the harbour. When he is about to move back, he saw one LTTE boat moving fast towards P 164 (Inshore Patrol Craft) commanded by Lt (SBS) Wickramasinghe. P164 had twelve SBS personnel onboard. By shape and speed, KG identified it as an LTTE Suicide boat. No time to wait. He knew the danger. He decided and acted as per the greatest traditions of SBS, sacrifice own life to protect your senior officer and buddies.

He rammed the LTTE Suicide boat with his craft. Huge explosion! Both LTTE Suicide boat and KG’s boat perished into thin air……

Petty Officer (SBS) KG Shantha was promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer posthumously. His wife who was four months pregnant then and informed of her beloved husband’s loss. No funeral was taken place as nothing of his body recovered due to 500 Kg Suicide boat explosion. KG was later awarded Parama Weera Vibushanaya (PWV), the highest Gallantry medal of Sri Lanka. He became one of the two naval personnel awarded with this highest Gallantry medal.

In 2011, house for KG’s wife and family was constructed by the Naval Civil Engineering Department with funds given by former First Lady, Mrs. Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa in memory of her late father Commander EP Wickremasinghe of Royal Ceylon Navy/Sri Lanka Navy, former Chief of Staff (Operations) of Sri Lanka Navy.

KG’s Son was admitted to Royal College, Colombo 7. Distance from his home to Royal College was too far for the young child to travel.

CPO (SBS) K G Shantha’s son Anuhas with his mother on his 14th Birthday [Photo: Special Arrangement]

On my request, former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka gave a House temporarily at the new Housing scheme in Mandawila, which eased the burden of long travelling and allowing enough time for the child to attend to his studies and extra classes.

When Wikum came to my office with his mother to collect his gift, he brought a letter written in his beautiful handwriting, thanking Minister Partali for the gesture which helped him to do his studies well. I recollect Minister was an Electrical Engineer from Moratuwa University and got the Island’s best results in G C E Advanced Level Examination on Science stream from Kalutara district.

I learnt what is gratitude from this young War Hero’s Son.

I gave him the advice which my father gave me when I passed Navodhaya scholarship in grade Seven in Royal College, Colombo 7.

“Good, better, best – do not rest until your good is Better and better is best”

The Journey of Jaffna’s Mahogany Plantation: A Sustainable Model for the Future

Today we talk much about tree plantation and increasing forest cover in our Country. How many trees we planted in a year? How many trees which we planted with much effort perish in a few months? How many grow up to big trees? It’s something we should really look into.

We were all aware in most of our much-published Tree Planting campaigns on National Tree Planting Day, end up with only signboards remaining after a few months. What is important for the future is not only to plant trees but also to look after the saplings for a few years, especially during dry seasons, so that they grow strong and will able to stand alone to grow up to become big trees. Former Army Commander General Mahesh Senanayake’s effort in Wilpattu Area a few years back is of this type. Army will look after the trees until they are grown up. This will increase the forest cover of Wilpattu to a new level.

I was the Commander Northern Naval Area from 5th April 2011 to 4th October 2012. The Navy has to dominate the road from Kankasanturei (KKS) to Karinagar in our Main Supply Route (MSR). Very few civilians were living on either side of the road during that time. Further, we had another Naval Base SLNS AGBO along this road to secure the MSR. It was near Dambakolapatuna Viharaya, where Buddhists believe Therani Sangamitta landed with a sap line of secreted Bo tree.

I gave a new task to personnel at SLNS AGBO during the rainy season of 2011. That is to plant Mahogany saplings on either side of MSR. Saplings were planted approx 15- meters distance apart. We planted 500 saplings. First, the saplings were protected from harsh weather in the Northern area, both from Sun and strong sea breeze. Saplings were watered every third day during the dry season.

It was a fairly complicated task due to a shortage of water and a tractor browser. Every sailor in SLNS AGBO owned four saplings each. They were responsible to look after them. Sailors took this new and different task with much enthusiasm. Some asked why we plant trees in areas which not owned by us. Others were calculating the commercial value of these Mahogany trees when they were fully grown in twenty-five years. Our sailors, especially in the North serve for one to one and half years before they go on transfer. So, when sailors transferred to SLNS AGBO, the ownership of the saplings also transferred from outgoing sailors to incoming sailors. One thing we all knew was that in 25 years’ time when these trees are fully grown, non of us will be in the Navy. However, it was not a concern to us. We all want our project to be successful.

Our “Operation Mahogany “ was very successful. Trees started growing well and it was a very pleasant sight to see these trees grown in a symmetrical way on either side of the road from Keeramali junction (where the famous Naguleshwaran Hindu temple Keeramali is situated) to Ponnali junction (where the famous Varadaraja Perumal Hindu temple or Maha Vishnu temple situated. Location where Jaffna Mayor Alfred Durraiappa was killed ion 27th July 1975).

Today, after 12 years, these Trees are very big. fully grown 444 Mahogany trees on either side of the road, In another 13 years’ time they could be used by the Jaffna people. Our tree plantation project has given us 88.8 per cent success rate. Not bad at all!


I wish more than 95 percent success rate for Former Army General Commander Mahesh Senanayake’s Project in Wilpattu Area.