Admiral Samarasinghe appointed Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia

May 06, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s former Navy Commander retired Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe has been approved as the High Commissioner to Australia, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Admiral Samarasinghe is to leave for Canberra immediately to present credentials, sources say.

Tamil diaspora in Australia have demanded the Australian government to reject the former Navy Chief’s nomination in protest of Sri Lanka’s refusal to allow an international war crimes tribunal although no specific allegation of war crimes arising from the conflict has been made against Admiral Samarasinghe.

An exemplary naval officer, Admiral Samarasinghe was appointed as the Navy Commander following the end of the war in July 2009. He retired from the Navy on January 15.

During the war Admiral Samarasinghe commanded the operations in the country’s eastern and northern waters that successfully destroyed the Sea Tiger Wing of the terrorist group LTTE.

More about Admiral Samarasinghe

Admiral Samarasinghe is son of Francis Samrasinghe a civil servant and Umawathie Samarasinghe a teacher, he was educated at the prestigious Royal College Colombo where he was a Senior Prefect, Regimental Sergeant Major of the Cadet Corps and won colours at Athletics. He joined the Sri Lanka Navy after completing school in 1974 as an Officer Cadet. He won the Sword of Honour of the 4th intake at the Naval & Maritime Academy and won the Best International Midshipman award at Britannia Royal Naval College in 1976 along with appointment as Divisional Sub Lieutenant. A specialist navigator, he graduated from Navigation and Direction School INS Venduruthy in India securing the 1st place in order of merit. He is a graduate of the Naval Staff College (Class 38) from Naval War College and of the National Defence College, New Delhi (45th Course) -2005.

Admiral Samarasinghe’s Naval career

He had served on board Short Patrol Craft, Long Patrol Craft and in command of one of the first two Dvora – Mk I Fast Attack Crafts in 1985 that would later make up the 4th Fast Attack Flotilla. Thereafter he served on board Fast Gun Boats of the 3rd Fast Gun Boats Squadron and the Surveillance Command Tender and Surveillance Command Ship (then the Flagship) of the 7th Surveillance Command Squadron. His shore commands included a naval base in the northern naval area and of two training establishments. He had also served in several Staff and Deputy Director/Director appointments at Naval Headquarters. In 1998 he was the Aide de Camp (ADC) to HRH Prince of Wales during his state visit to Sri Lanka for 50th Anniversary Independence Day Celebrations.

As a Commodore he was posted as the Deputy Area Commander of the Northern Naval Area, Eastern Naval Area and Southern Naval Area, before he was appointed Commander of the Southern Naval Area in 2002. He was appointed as the first Director, General Services in 2004 while concurrently holding the appointments of Director, Naval Projects & Plans; Naval Assistant to Commander of the Navy and Principal Staff Officer of the Joint Operations Headquarters under the Chief of Defence Staff.

A recipient of 5 commendation letters from four Commanders of the Navy, he has led Naval Delegations to India, Russia, Israel and USA on bilateral issues.

Promoted to Rear Admiral, in December 2005 he was appointed as Acting Commander Northern Naval Area, before he was appointed as the Director General Naval Operations in 2006 overseeing the anti arms smuggling operations that lead to the distraction of several LTTE gun running ships in the Indian Ocean. Thereafter in 2007 he served as Commander of the Eastern Naval Area during Eastern operations and in 2008, Commander of the Northern Naval Area during Northern offensive. In May 2009 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Navy. On July 15, 2009 he was made commander of the navy and promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral. On January 12, 2011 he was promoted to the rank of Admiral and retired three days later.

Admiral Samarasinghe was awarded Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP) for gallantry in combat, the service medals Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya (VSV), Uttama Seva Padakkama (USP), the Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal and other medals that include the Purna Bhumi Padakkama and the North and East Operations Medal.

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