Admiral Colombage joined the Sri Lanka Navy as an Officer Cadet in 1978 and successfully completed his basic training at the renowned Naval and Maritime Academy in Trincomalee winning the ‘Sword of Honour’ for the Best Officer Cadet of the 7th Intake. He was then selected to attend the prestigious International Midshipmen Course in the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in the United Kingdom.
Admiral Colombage is the second officer to be considered to the highest seat of the Commander of the Navy straight from an Operational Naval Command. He served as the Commander Eastern Naval Area at the historic Naval Dockyard in Trincomalee until he was chosen to steer the Sri Lanka Navy. He has achieved many firsts in his distinguished, decorative and unblemished naval career spanning 34 years. He has been conferred with two master’s degrees – Master of Science in Defence Studies and Master of Arts in International Studies. Presently, Vice Admiral Colombage is reading for his Doctorate in Philosophy.
Admiral Colombage has been a regular lecturer at the Defence Services Command and Staff College in Colombo since its inception. He is an expert in Maritime Security and has published papers and conducted National-Level Seminars on Maritime Security. He has been certified by the International Maritime Organization as a lecturer in International Conventions on Port and Ship Security. He has presented scores of papers on Maritime Terrorism related subjects in Sri Lanka as well as at international forums. He has published a book titled ‘Naval Terms and Expressions’ and actively contributes to various academic forums.
He is a distinguished alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in India, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, Hawaii in the United States of America and Royal College of Defence Studies in the United Kingdom. He is also a Fellow of the Nautical Institute of the United Kingdom and currently the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Branch. He holds Diplomas in Security Studies, Conflict Resolution, International Affairs and Information Technology.
He has commanded four Operational Naval Commands, namely, Eastern, Northern, Western and North Central, for a period of over 5 years. He served twice as the Director General Operations at Naval Headquarters. Prior to that, he served as the Director General Services as well as the Director Naval Training and Personnel. He has also served in the appointments of Deputy Area Commander (North Central), Deputy Area Commander (South) and Deputy Area Commander (East).
Admiral Colombage has commanded numerous ships of the Sri Lanka Navy including the Fast Missile Vessels, Fast Gun Boats, Fast Attack Craft and amphibious ships and has been awarded the Surface Warfare Badge. He is a weapon specialist who has undergone extensive training with the Indian Navy and in the People’s Republic of China.
He is a recipient of the Rana Sura Padakkama for gallantry. Among the other medals awarded to him are the Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya, the Utthama Seva Padakkama, the Sri Lanka Navy 50th Anniversary Medal, the Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal, the President’s Inauguration Medal, the 50th Independence Anniversary Commemoration Medal, the East Humanitarian Operation Medal, the North Humanitarian Operation Medal, the North and East Operations Medal, the Purna Bhumi Padakkama, the Vadamarachchi Operation Medal and the Riviresa Campaign Service Medal.
Admiral Colombage is the most commended Naval Officer. Successive Commanders of the Navy have issued him with ‘Letters of Commendation’ for exceptional execution of duties and responsibilities and for his achievements in numerous fields such as operational activities, leadership, managerial and administrative skills, academic achievements, highest commitment and dedication towards the cause of the nation. He is the recipient of the prestigious 5-Star Commendation Badge.
He aptly showed his prowess as an athlete even after joining the Navy winning the Sri Lanka Navy Colours. He held the post of President of the Sri Lanka Navy Athletics Club from 1999 to 2006 and also served as President of the renowned Ceylonese Track and Field Club. Presently, he is the President of the Sri Lanka Navy Sports Board and a Vice President of the Defence Services Sports Board.