Crew members from HMAS Adelaide attended a special wreath-laying ceremony as Australia and Sri Lanka marked 75 years of diplomatic relations.

The service – commemorating Commonwealth aviators who lost their lives in World War 2 defending the sovereignty of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) – was held at Koggala Air Force Base during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022 (IPE22).

Commodore Mal Wise, Commander IPE22, said the service underscored Australia and Sri Lanka’s strong and enduring friendship as active partners in the Indian Ocean.

“It is significant that during IPE22 we remember Commonwealth members who gave their lives during WW2 to protect Ceylon’s sovereignty,” Commodore Wise said.

“Events like this allow both countries to honour and reflect on our shared history, built on a strong foundation of trust and mutual support.

“As long-time friends with many common interests, we are committed to working together for a secure and prosperous North-East Indian Ocean region,” Commodore Wise said.

Lieutenant Patrick Kniepp, whose grandfather served in the 2/16th Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces in Ceylon, said he was humbled to attend the service.

“It was a moving experience to pay respect to my grandfather at a place where he served,” Lieutenant Kniepp said.

“To reflect on the commitment of all those who served so far from home in WW2 was a truly special honour.”

IPE22 demonstrates Australia and Sri Lanka’s longstanding commitment to ensuring a safe, secure, and prosperous North-East Indian Ocean made up of independent, sovereign, and resilient states.

HMA Ships Adelaide and Anzac are the first to visit Sri Lanka since early 2019. The Australian Government is providing $75 million in emergency aid to help Sri Lanka meet urgent food and health care needs.

Personnel from HMA Ships Adelaide and Anzac attend the wreath laying service at Koggala Air Force Base, Colombo.