German research ship allowed Sri Lanka port call after Chinese-protest led clarification




ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka has allowed a German research vessel for replenishment in Colombo port for the second time following the clarification from the island nation’s Foreign Ministry after Chinese protest.

“It’s the same German research vessel came last month. It came around New Year time when it was returning and the ship was allowed,” a top Foreign Ministry official told Economy Next referring to Sri Lanka’s traditional New Year celebrated on April 14.

Another Foreign Ministry official confirmed the German research vessel’s Colombo port call.The Foreign Ministry last month clarified a confusion related to ban on foreign research vessels.It said Sri Lanka will allow offshore research ships for replenishment at the island nation ports despite the one-year ban on such vessels. #

The clarification came after strong protest by China over Sri Lanka allowing the same German research vessel last month.Chinese Embassy in Colombo raised strong protest against the move to allow a German research vessel early in March following the island nation’s authorities turned down a Beijing request for a research vessel in February.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government has temporarily halted foreign research ships after strong security concerns raised by neighbour India and the United States following the visit of two Chinese research vessels in 14 months.

When the ban was announced, the government failed to specifically reveal its stance on requests for replenishment or crew change for foreign research vessels.

Sri Lanka is in the process of introducing a SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) for handling foreign research vessels and to improve the capacity of relevant officials in handling foreign research ships.

Two Chinese research ships were allowed to dock in Sri Lanka ports within 14 months through November 2023 with one called for replenishment and the other for research.

Chinese research ship Shi Yan 6 arrived in Sri Lanka in October 2023 and docked in Colombo port, for what Beijing citing was for “geophysical scientific research” in collaboration with the island nation’s National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA).

In August 2022, Chinese navy vessel Yuan Wang 5 docked at Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka for replenishment.

Both drew strong Indian protests citing security concerns in the Indian Ocean.India uses the Colombo port as its main transshipment hub and accounts for around 70 percent of the total transshipment volume of the port.