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The sinking of SLNS Weeraya and Jagatha

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After decades-long tour of duty on the waters, Weeraya and Jagatha – two ships of the 3rd Fast Gun Boat Squadron of the SL Navy, have now found their new home on the seabed off the port of Trincomalee. While they continue to prove their mettle enriching the deep waters as fish breeding grounds and shipwreck diving sites, those who manned them recollect fond memories on board.

by Randima Attygalle

Weeraya and Jagatha translate into ‘hero’ and ‘conqueror’. These ships of the 3rd Fast Gun Boat Squadron of the SL Navy lived up to their names ensuring the security of the Sri Lankan waters during wartime. Weeraya joined the fleet in 1972 when Rear Admiral D.V Hunter was at the helm of the Royal Ceylon Navy and Jagatha in 1980 during Rear Admiral A.W.H Perera’s tenure as Commander.

During the 30-year war, these ships were in the frontline fighting arms smuggling and terrorist activities in the seas off the Karainagar Island. Having played their part, Weeraya and Jagatha bid goodbye to the men above the waters, settling down on ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’ off Rocky Point in Trincomalee a few weeks ago. They were both soon to turn 60.

The ceremonial decommissioning of the two vessels at the Naval Dockyard in Trincomalee a few weeks ago was presided over by the Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenna. In keeping with naval custom, the decommissioning was carried out with the seal of approval of the President. The decommissioning ceremony ended with the paying off pennants (long pennants equivalent to the lengths of each ship) ceremonially scissored into equal parts and the individual pieces distributed as souvernirs among the ships’ crew in the time-honored naval traditions. The decommissioning ceremony was also attended by Rear Admiral (Retd) J.T.G. Sundaram (as a guest of honour) who commanded Weeraya from January 1, 1980 to January 25, 1981 as its sixth Commanding Officer.

Manufactured in 1961 in China, Weeraya was one of the first of two gunboats (FGBs) to be added to the fleet of the then Ceylon Navy in 1972 as one of Her Majesty’s Ceylon Ships (HMCyS). Until the arrival of this vessel, the Navy had only one ship- a Frigate called Gajabahu and many unarmed small boats,

Lieutenant Commander (Retd) Somasiri Devendra, an authority on maritime archaeology, says: “When the Insurgency of 1971 erupted we were without any seaward defenses and had to call upon Indian and Pakistani ships to patrol our waters and throw a cordon around us. The Chinese offer of two reconditioned FGBs- (Sooraya and Weeraya as they were renamed later) was welcome.”

The ships gifted by China in early 1972 were commissioned a few months later. Commissioning, as Devendra explains, is the act of empowering a vessel to act as a self-sufficient unit of the Navy under a Commanding Officer. The ships were launched by the Prime Minister who was the then head of the government and the country’s chief executive. Devendra who was in Kochchikade when the Sooraya and Weeraya arrived as deck cargo on a Chinese merchant vessel recollects his first glimpse of them wrapped in bamboo matting. “They were a class of ships designed for use in rivers – those rivers were much bigger than anything we have. At sea, their buoyancy would have increased. They had several engines and were heavily armed. They were tested as seagoing craft by us and several problems encountered were put right with our inputs.”

Soon, Sooraya and Weeraya were joined by three more Chinese counterparts. “When these three arrived, a ‘nationalist’ minded officer decided to pander to then Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike by suggesting that the five FGBs have names starting with S,W,R,D and B. This resulted in the names Sooraya, Weeraya, Ranakami, Dakshaya and Balawatha!” says Devendra. The Chinese teams accompanying the ships remained here for several weeks after the handover.

“All the manuals, signage, etc. on board was in Chinese only. The first local crew made use of their stay to get all of them translated as the Chinese team had very good Sinhala speaking interpreters who had learned the language at one of our state universities.”

After the ships started patrolling it was found that given the tight Navy Vote, it was very expensive to run them at maximum capacity. Nevertheless, some of them did undertake cruises to the Maldives, notes Devendra.

The decommissioning ceremony of the Weeraya and Jagatha, Rear Admiral (Retd) J.T.G. Sundaram who commanded Weeraya as its sixth Commanding Officer, says was the “first ceremony of such scale and pageantry.” This senior officer who graced the occasion as a guest of honour lauds it as a fitting tribute to the two pioneer vessels. “Before the onset of the conflict, the role of the Navy was largely that of surveillance which gradually shifted to an operational one. Weeraya and Jagatha were among the vessels which had to adapt to this transformation.”

Light House Relief Operations servicing the Little and Great Basses Lighthouses in the South and patrolling in the Northern seas were some of the notable surveillance exercises for which the Weeraya was responsible before she took on operational duties, says Sundaram.

Jagatha in the mid-80s, was a notable platform for cadet sea training, Sundaram, who was also a training commander on board said. “Both these vessels underwent mid-life refit in the mid-1980s for which Chinese personnel arrived here.” Before a ship is decommissioned, the exercise known as ‘de-storing’ takes place explains the Senior officer. “All weapons, engines, propellers, shafts, electronic and electrical equipment, fuel and lubricants are removed in this process.” Once de-storing is complete, scuttling of the ship begins by allowing water to flow into the hull.

“Sailing during South West monsoon along the southern seas especially along the stretch between Hambantota and Tangalle passing Great Basses and Little Basses were the acid tests that a junior rating or a cadet had to prove his sea legs,” recollects a top-ranking retired naval officer. Fondly looking back on his days spent in the Gun Room of Jagatha as a young cadet in 1985, he adds, “the kitchen (galley) was using diesel fuel and the food had an eternal diesel flavour! The single toilet was not sufficient to cater to the larger crew; hence a Thunder Box was installed at the stern of Jagatha!”

The Shanghai class ships – Jagatha and Weeraya were the “best teeth the navy had to bite in late 70s and 80s”, reflects the senior officers who adds with a chuckle that today cadets will certainly make a mockery out of seven- point gun drill what was a ritual prior to a gun being fired. “It was ‘The Gun’ that the LTTE most feared tangling with,” he adds.

Out of the Jagatha’s four engines, two were in the forward engine room and used only when high speed was required. Their roar at high RPM was not at all ear-friendly, he recounts. “The Crow’s Nest was a cage like contraption on the top of the lattice mast and slacking cadets or those caught for being too smart were banished up there as punishment

“Sailing through the Karainagar channel into the Elara naval base at Karainagar, passing Fort Hammenhiel without running aground, was a skill mastered by the then commanding officers and Master-at-Arms who were at the rudder of the vessel, he notes.

The Dumping Permit Regulations made under the Marine Pollution Prevention Act require the sanction of the Marine Environment Pollution Authority (MEPA) for any decommissioning of a vessel and this was obtained prior to the sinking.

“True to MEPA’s vision of realizing a healthy coastal and ocean environment for future generations, we welcome shipwrecks which promote fish breeding places and shipwreck diving which spurs awareness and future interventions in terms of sustainability. We are conscious that such wrecks are not detrimental to the marine life,” remarks Dr. Terney Pradeep Kumara, General Manager of MEPA. Any decommissioning of a ship, he explains, should be authorized by MEPA. “A dumping permit is issued for sinking of any vessel once the authorities are satisfied that all pollutant-agents such as oil, lubricants and non-degradable material is removed from it.”

The open gangways of a shipwreck are a haven for both the fish and the diver alike says the Marine Ecologist. “While wrassers, groupers, larger snappers and morays thrive in these places, they also enable divers to swin through these passages.”

Ship wrecks as the Tec-Diver and underwater explorer, Dharshana Jayawardena explains, could be a boon to fisheries and tourism. “From a fisheries perspective, the correct location and depth is important. The currents in the location will determine how well-nourished the wreck will be with coral larvae floating in water that will settle to make an artificial reef; also once it is a reef, how much nutrients will be available for its sustenance will also count. The least pollutants in the location, the better the reef will turn out to be.”

Wrecks also act as safe havens for shoaling fish to hide during day time. It is important that these locations can be easily accessed by recreational divers. “If not its value for tourism won’t be as much.  In addition, the location should have good water clarity most of the time,” notes the technically precise diver with a wealth of experience diving into decommissioned ships both locally and overseas. The two decommissioned gunboats lying close together in the Trincomalee Harbour, the Chevron glass gunboat off the shores of Moratuwa, the wreck of We Ling that was sunk with several bullet-proof VIP cars onboard in Negombo and several decommissioned vessels in the Maldives sunk for the purpose of creating artificial reefs for the Maldivian tourism industry are among such diving pursuits of his.

A few kilometers away from the Jagatha and Weeraya’s resting place in Rocky Point, off Trincomalee, lie remains of several aircraft, decommissioned navy gun boats and also one of the largest wrecks in the world – the Admiralty Floating Dock 23. But marine tourists are not allowed to access these as they are within the harbour environs, says Jayawardena.

A ship sold for scrap will yield a one-time, short-term dividend, a ship sunk as an artificial reef will provide dividends for over 100 years as an abundant fishing ground and also give back millions of dollars in foreign revenue to the country from the tourist divers who come to visit the wreck, notes the explorer.



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Mix of nostalgia and modernity among the young

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As a fashion studies major,the greatest interest has been seeing how younger generations are slowly changing the fashion world without really noticing. Many fandoms, as well as influencers, have created many important changes in fashion such as starting new trends through popular social media platforms.

Meanwhile how Younger Generations Have Influenced Fashion

Many people have considered that interests brought by younger generations such as fandoms and fashion are two different worlds, that younger generations and fandoms focus a lot on pop culture and other entertainment interests, and that fashion enthusiasts focus on the latest garment and color trends.

However, many don’t really realize how much pop culture, fandoms liked by younger generations have influenced fashion and vice versa simply because there has been a line made to divide these two into two worlds that most likely will never intersect, though this line has slowly disappeared within the most recent years, creating a fashion aesthetic strictly inspired by popular fandoms and pop culture.

Not only that but many people began creating and designing clothing that features strawberry designs inspired by the popular trending dress. This was a huge influence that younger generations have had in the fashion world, but this fashion trend also inspired many anime fandom artists to unleash their imaginations and create a wonderful world with their favorite characters wearing this magnificent dress.

This influence is only one of the many influences that pop culture, fandoms, and the younger generations have had in the fashion world. There have been many other fashion aesthetics that have trended and inspired many new garments and colour combinations. One of the popular aesthetics or commonly known as “core” was the cottagecore trend.

What is cottagecore? It is the aesthetic surrounding life in a rural and peaceful environment. This aesthetic has left an important impact on fashion because garments such as flowy and delicate dresses, sun hats and more headgear, sweater vests, among other styles of clothing have become quite popular as well due to the influence younger generations have had in the fashion world. Another important pop-culture interest has been the many entertainment sections such as many different series, anime, dramas, music and band groups, comics and manga, influencers etc which has led to the creation of many fandoms that have influenced the fashion world heavily.

But how has this been done? Well, with the rising popularity of pop culture and every entertainment loved by younger generations, designers and brands have decided to change their fashion path into a more laid back and casual but just as a trend and exquisite specifically made to appeal to Millennials and Gen-Z which are the cause in this sudden change in the fashion industry.

Popular stores have been the spotlight of fashion influenced by these generations and pop culture. Stores like these have a wide range of many innovative and creative fashion garments which were either inspired by a tv show, a band, an anime, a comic or manga, or even Disney and Nickelodeon classics and have been designed specifically to appeal to Millenials and Gen-Z by creating unique and playful accessories as well as garments. These stores have managed to make pop culture fashionable and made fashion more hip and exclusive for those lovers of pop culture. Another way of how younger generations have influenced fashion has been by making past trends come back to our modern times. For some reason, Millennials and Gen-Z have actually been so interested in old fashion trends, or more commonly known as retro fashion aesthetic. Many past fashion garments have made a very strong comeback, and young generations have even recreated its original style into a mix of nostalgia and modernity, giving this certain fashion trend a complete and new innovative aspect. Another interesting aspect of retro fashion was the incorporation of retro sources of entertainment into popular fashion aesthetics.

Many younger generations have been very innovative and unique in creating trends, sometimes they do not notice the impact that they are making for an entire industry and the inspirational fashion garments created due to the trends created by these generations but it is undeniable that the fashion industry has entered a world where the younger generations are determining how the game is played and introducing new and exciting trends that are fun, fashionable, and fresh. Embracing tradition, as well as modernity, has been the tool that the younger generations have made great use of when establishing new, wonderful, catchy and popular trends.

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How Young People Are Changing the Fashion Industry

New York Fashion Week is here and there is a growing fashion movement that has the potential to fundamentally change the industry: sustainable fashion. If designers want to endear themselves to Gen Z, they’ll take note of this important shift.

The last ten years have seen a dramatic rise in the educated consumer, one who thinks not just about the quality and value of the finished product, but how it got on the shelf — where the materials come from, who made it and under what conditions. This desire to understand the backstory of consumer goods has spread to fashion, and young people are forcing brands to take a look at what they do and how they do it. Gen Z, in particular, wants to align themselves with brands that stand for something (hello, Nike). Sustainability and ethical fashion are quickly becoming a part of this generation’s values set, as the negative impacts of fast fashion come to light (think environmental hazards and human rights issues).

But while there is a cohort of front-row influencers, celebrities and brands such as Allbirds, United by Blue, Girlfriend Collective, Reformation, Outerknown and Everlane that devote themselves to sustainable fashion, the movement still has a long way to go before it’s mainstream. Most young people today would consider sustainable fashion more of an ethical bonus or nice-to-have, not a requirement. The primary reason: The cost.

Most sustainable fashion naturally comes with a higher price point because of the devotion to ethically sourced fabrics, thoughtful construction methods, improved factory conditions, and improved pay for workers. When the average cost of one eco-friendly item is about $80 (at the low end), young people often have no choice but to shop elsewhere. Especially when you can buy several outfits at stores such as Forever 21 or Old Navy for that same amount. Young people are still in that fashion phase of wanting to wear the latest looks — and changing up their outfits daily. They don’t yet have that mindset to buy more higher-quality clothes and keep them for a long time.

–Vogue

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How Celebrities Influence Fashions

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Celebrities have always shaped and influenced the ongoing fashion trend.

Celebrities both Hollywood and Bollywood influence fashion by wearing whatever is in fashion and also sometimes they create their fashion trend by wearing something enormous, created by the world’s leading fashion designers.

Some of them are known to having better knowledge with fashion than other celebrities, we look to them as fashion icons. They are numerous ways celebrities can influence fashion.

Celebrities set the rule on how to dress to a certain event or how you should dress at a certain age. A lot of times celebrities will promote certain fashion trends. People dress a certain way because their favorite celebrity that they stalk on social media is wearing the same thing.

Fashion can be influenced by social media, the person wearing a certain type of designer or a piece of clothing from that designer.

Research says the some individuals who are referred to as opinion leaders has a major impact on what society thinks of a certain type of fashion. With having celebrities as a fashion opinion leader it leads to higher percentage of market sales. It is agreed that they tend to have more knowledge about fashion than a regular person would, even though if they do not dress accordingly to society at the time. The key aspect of fashion on celebrities is to be seen in the public eye which helps the consumer/designer get more clients or fame.

When it comes to celebrities and trends, clothing is one of the easiest ones to follow. It doesn’t matter what article of clothing celebs have on, if it’s in a magazine or on an Instagram feed, the next day stores are selling the same piece of clothing that said celebrity wore in a photo. It is easier to keep up with the changing trends because of Instagram and TikTok where many celebrities will post videos of their outfits when going out for an event or just spending the day at home. Everyone has their own unique sense of style but how do celebrities influence our style, and are we really dressing in the clothes we choose because we like them, or are we doing it to follow a trend?Celebrities have been known to popularize trends even after they go out of style. One of the reasons why people are so drawn to the styles celebrities wear is because many will choose to dress in a style that brings back nostalgia.

For example, some fashion trend that has been in and out of style for the last couple of years. Various stores and clothing brands have been selling items from tthis fashion collection for a while such as Hot Topic, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters. But the downside to clothing trends is that we realize “I’m never gonna wear this again,” or “I don’t even like this style, why did I buy this?”

Celebrities are good at advertising the clothing items they’re given because it’s part of their job, but sometimes they don’t even like the items they wear. So, why do we continue to follow clothing trends? They have been given lots of beautiful pieces of clothing to wear and when we see them in it and how people respond to them, we want the same reaction they get, so we choose to follow the trend people say

These celibritiescan also influence where clothing is sourced from. Some of the clothes that we wear are made from animals and harmful products that we don’t even realize are made from insects (silk), goats (cashmere), and sheep (shearling). Numerous celebrities have taken a stand against animal products in clothing, and have chosen to wear clothing that is vegan and animal-free.

For example, Ariana Grande’s wedding dress was made from stating vegan which, according to VeganFashionWeek, has “the soft and lustrous texture of satin to create the perfect wedding gown for Arianna Grande. Satin is made from synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, rayon fibers…)” The choice to buy ethically can influence fans’ styles because they may be inspired to purchase clothing that is made from vegan materials and animal-free products.

Another reason could be because many items that celebrities wear can be used on various occasions. Because celebrities have millions of fans who follow everything that they do, some celebrities have their own clothing lines designed to fit every size and every occasion so that they’re fans can dress comfortably and stylish. Cardi B partnered with Fashion Nova, Kendall and Kylie Jenner have a namesake clothing line, as do many other celebrities. It gives fans the confidence to expand their wardrobe, and it has made people feel comfortable in their own skin.

More positively, celebrities can influence our style by advertising to their fans to dress as themselves and not for anyone else. Angelina Jolie shared her views on fashion in an article last year, saying, “I think we all know boldness when we see it. Nothing makes me smile more than when I see someone being fully themselves, with their own individual style and character, whatever that is.”

Remember: celebrities have their own individual styles that match their own unique personalities and so do you. They can influence our styles because we might like how they look in movies, TV shows, and Tiktoks. It is worth mentioning that celebrities have stylists who dress them for special occasions, and designers who want them to wear their clothes. Style and clothing should be about self expression and instead it has become about trends and influence. Clothes are the reflection of the person you are on the inside so instead of following a clothing trend that’ll be over in a few weeks, dress for yourself.

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Sade Greenwood Miss Sri Lanka world 2022, speaks about Fitness and lifestyle 

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by Zanita Careem

The reigning Miss Sri Lanka world Sade Greenwood gives insight into the importance of a balanced and healthy lifestyle for achieving goals and overall wellbeing.

Sade is currently a student at Tokyo International University in Japan where She studies International Relations. She hopes to make a difference in her country using her degree, where she hopes to be involved in youth programmes and education. When Sade is not studying she is usually doing her charity work which involves environmental services and animal welfare. .

Sade with her sparkling personality and penchant for positivity personifies ‘beauty with a purpose’. She has brought immense pride to us all with her ‘walking the talk’ through her numerous charitable endeavors.

Q• Sade tell us about your journey from modelling to competing nationally, and winning the coveted Miss Sri Lanka World 2022 title?

A•

It’s been a surreal journey! Definitely a lot of adjusting as it was a huge shift in my life but all the same I’m so grateful and blessed to be able to represent my country on the  international stage. 

Q• You have always been in model shape. Have You had to change your workout routines when focusing on the beauty industry? 

A• I think I more so needed fitness to help me balance my busy schedules. It was always great to have a release from everything through fitness, it’s definitely something I used more for my mental and physical health in becoming a stronger version of myself.

Q• Being a part of The Fitness Connection Family and working out at the Gym what do you feel has been the biggest change? 

A• I think learning to achieve my goals. One thing about fitness is that consistency plays a huge role but so does diet! Learning to cut out on some of my favourite food is a little tricky!

Q• I know You have a hectic schedule and many commitments. How have your workouts at the gym impacted you positively? 

A• It’s impacted my mental and physical health and overall helped me balance my life and find a release from all the stress and strain.

Q• As you and your pathway have inspired so many, what advise would You give to those looking to balance their goals with their everyday lives? 

A• Make sure you love what you do! That makes it easier to balance anything in life because you’re putting your heart and soul into what you do. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’ then, so train your mind!

Q• What motivates you the most, and gets you moving even on the most tiring of days? 

A• My goals and how the future version of myself would be proud that I made the decision to do something then and there.

We are all looking forward to your next chapters in what is definitely going to be an exciting and fulfilling journey. I will surely be speaking with you again soon!

*Sade Greenwood photographed at The Fitness Connection,

Racecourse Colombo 07

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