Even as fishermen of India and Sri Lanka are often being held by each other’s navy for illegal fishing activity, crew members of three Indian naval ships – INS Sujatha and INS Tarangini and ICGS Varuna of the Indian Coast Guard – have been interacting with their counterparts in Colombo over the last few days.

On Saturday, as many as 250 trainees with the Sri Lankan Navy were on board the Indian ships for ‘sea experience’, in navy parlance. While two vessels are scheduled to leave late Saturday, the third would return to India on Sunday.

Speaking at a reception hosted by the Indian High Commission here on Friday on board the training ships, Sri Lankan Navy Commander Vice Admiral Jayanth Colombage said nearly 80 per cent of the Sri Lankan Navy officers received some of their training in India. Recalling his own training stints in places such as Kerala and the Nilgiris, he said: “Irrespective of the other differences that may exist, navy cadets of both countries speak the same language.”

Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha said that India, in addition to having a broad-based engagement with Sri Lanka, shared very strong ties that were both explicit and subtle.

Part of a training interaction initiative, the experience sought to expose trainees to the rigours of the sea, officials said.