Additional Director General of the Civil Security Department, Rear Admiral Shemal Fernando is a Naval Officer who became the longest serving 2-star rank military officer in the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka at the time of his retirement on December 16, 2014. A product of the prestigious Royal College, Colombo, he joined the Navy as an Officer Cadet on October 1, 1979.
As a loyal and committed Naval Officer, he made valiant sacrifices towards safeguarding the peace, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka throughout his decorative and unblemished career spanning 35 years, 2 months and 15 days. His last naval assignment was the Director General Administration.
His illustrious career began with being adjudged as the Best Cadet in Academic, Professional and Secretarial Subjects and receiving the awards from the President J. R. Jayewardene in 1980. He went on to bag the coveted award for the Best Midshipman in 1982 and the award for the Best Sub Lieutenant of the International Professional Course in Pakistan in 1984.
His potentials were recognized quite early and Admiral Asoka de Silva selected him as his Flag Lieutenant in 1985. Then, Admiral Clancy Fernando took him as his Aide and Personal Secretary in 1991. Later, successive Admirals relied on him for the key appointment of the Naval Secretary and he became the only officer to be selected to wear the gold and blue aiguillette on 10 occasions.
He is the youngest officer ever to be promoted to the ranks of Commander, Captain, Commodore and Rear Admiral in the Supply & Secretarial specialization. In recognition of his sheer commitment and exceptional achievements in academic and professional spheres, he has been commended on 22 occasions by the Commanders of the Navy.
Rear Admiral Fernando is an alumni of the world renowned Naval War College in USA where he had the rare honour of becoming the first and only Sri Lankan to be elected the ‘Student President’ in 1994. He holds fellowship of the Charted Institute of Management and the Institute of Management of the UK as well as the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka.
He is amongst the first recipients of the prestigious MSc in Defence Management conferred by the Kotelawala Defence University in 2003 and his thesis remains the highest graded work. He also earned an Olympic Scholarship and became the first Sri Lankan to achieve the esteemed MSc in Sports Management from the IOC in Switzerland in 2013. He is currently reading for his PhD.
Rear Admiral Fernando is the recipient of 10 medals and 5-Star Commendation Badge. His personal decorations include medals awarded for gallantry and conspicuous bravery in the face of the enemy - the Rana Sura Padakkama as well as medals awarded for exceptional ability, merit and exemplary conduct - the Uttama Seva Padakkama.
He was preferred as an Aide-de-Camp to Presidents and as an Admiral-in-Attendance to visiting dignitaries. As the Chairman of the War Heroes Commemoration Committee of the Royal College he led the way for unveiling of the ‘Roll of Honour’ and erection of the magnificent ‘War Heroes Monument’ in honour of 47 gallant Old Royalists who have made the Supreme Sacrifice.
His forte was athletics and won College, Sri Lanka Schools and Sri Lanka Navy Colours. As Chairman Athletics, he produced the first Olympian from the Navy at Olympic Games 2000. He has immensely contributed towards promotion of Athletics as an ExCo Member, Secretary General and Vice President of the Athletics Association of Sri Lanka from 1987 to 2011.
As Chairman, Defence Services Athletics, he was instrumental in winning the first ever World Military Games Medal for Sri Lanka at World Military Games 2003. Also, as the Secretary General of the Defence Services, he spearheaded the Defence Services Games 2010.
He serves as the President of the National Shooting Sport Federation of Sri Lanka since 2012. He has served as the Chef De Mission or Manager of Sri Lanka Contingents to Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World Military Games and Youth Commonwealth Games
He has rendered yeoman services to promote religious harmony in the Sri Lanka Navy. His pastimes include freelance journalism and voluntary social and community service. He has authored 4 books, 16 research papers and over 200 scholarly articles. His byline appears regularly in both international and local magazines and newspapers.
He is married to Carmel Fernando and blessed with three daughters - Shanil, Shalini and Shenali and one son - Shemal Jnr.