A  ship scribbled on a Potsherd.1 Cent AD

The Sinhala Navy

The kings of Sinhala had Navani, or Naval Forces, (Nau – sanskrit nau, ‘ship’ and, ani-sanskrit anikca, army,). At, various times the Sinhala Kings sent their ships across the sea to wage war with the Pandu, and Colas of south .India, and on one occasion as far as Ramanna (Burma).

At the siege of Colombo by Rajasinghe (1587-1588), sixty five Tustas and  Caturos (Naval Vessels) are listed as having been used.

At the Battle of Negombo (3rd January, 1644) naval vessels were employed by the Sinhalas as Troop Carriers.

A Naval expedition is described by Baldeus (1672), where, it-is stated that the Prince of Migonne (Migamuwa – Negombo) fitted out a fleet consisting of three War galleys and three Yachts. This fleet sailed, on I6 May with the nephew of the Prince of Ove (Uva) as Admiral and. WinndigeNay Hanni as vice-Admiral. it was ordered to intercept and capture Portuguese  navigating between Cape Comoryn and Ceylon.

The following are the names of the vessels of the Fleet and, of their respective Commanders :–

1. The Galley Candy                – Captain Sanderappu

2. The Galley Hollant               – Captain Kestena

3. The Galley Miggona – Captain Dingappe


4. The Yacht Fortuyn              – Captain Ordia

5  The Yacht Geluk                  – Captain Marasinghe

6. The Yacht Trouwe               – Captain Sunderappe

The Sinhala vessels must, have been as good as the Portuguese Vessels and their crew as skilled as the Portuguese sailors, to judge from the following description: –

The fleet, returned on the 6th of March, 1613 laden with much spoil which amounted to not, less than 6 tas of treasure. While to the North of Chelau( Chilaw) between Negumbo and Mannar they fell in with and captured 2 Portugezan vessels called Patrasios,3Yachts and 20 barques which they fire;they also fell in between Calecut and Cabo Comeryn with a Portuguese Yacht ; on the fleet nearing here, the crew threw themselves overboard and were drowned ; they then gave chase to another vessel and ran her aground and after that took possession of a richly laden Moors vessel bound from Ormies to Cochin; they also captured another Portugezen ship on her way from Bengala, pitched the Portugezen and Misticen and, cargo overboard. and made prisoners  of the Portugezen women and slaves.

On their return near Panua they discovered a Portugezen ship at anchor but deserted by her crew who had left everything on board to their mercy of the rich spoil captured, His Majesty made a distribution to his officers and soldiers.(Baldeus, 1612).

The Intaglio on a Rock Crystal from Kavantissa Vihare Embilipitiya.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s