The Royal Thai Navy said Tuesday that it had recovered the bodies of 20 sailors from a warship that sank in the Gulf of Thailand on December 18 due to stormy weather and high seas. Another body was awaiting final identification, while the search for eight missing servicemen from the HTMS Sukhothai continued, according to Navy spokesman.
“In addition to surface and shore patrols, an underwater explosive ordnance disposal team searched for any missing men around the HTMS Sukhothai and its main deck,” he explained.
Adm. Pokkrong Monthatphalin said three bodies were recovered, one on Monday and two on Tuesday. Two were confirmed to be navy men, while the third could be a crew member, he said, adding that the body was awaiting a final autopsy.
According to officials, 76 of the 105 people on board the warship were rescued within the first 24 hours.
Other armed forces personnel joined the navy for 24-hour operations to find the missing sailors from the warship, but they have yet to find a single sailor alive since then.
Officials said the HTMS Sukhothai’s engines and power generators failed after the ship took on water from severe flooding after being hit by waves ranging from 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) high on the evening of December 18 off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
Navy Criticized by families
On Monday, the mother of one of the deceased seamen questioned the navy’s decision to allow the HTMS Sukhothai to sail.
Jirawat Thoob-hom “went on board the ship for the first time and never returned,” according to his mother, who declined to give her name, after funeral rites were held Monday.
“Because he was afraid of a shipwreck, I’d like to ask [the navy] why it decided to let the ship leave the port.”
Separately, Navy Chief Adm. Choengchai Chomchoengpaet, who was present at the funeral, apologized to the families for the deceased seamen.
“The Navy is sorry for our men’s deaths, and I apologize for the Navy’s inability to save their lives despite strong efforts,” he told reporters.
“The Navy will not give up the search and hopes to find some survivors.”
The Royal Thai Navy corvette HTMS Sukhothai was one of two built in Tacoma, Washington.
It was commissioned 35 years ago and could conduct surface-to-air, surface-to-surface, and anti-submarine warfare.
The sinking of a Thai warship was the first in 77 years.
According to Thai media, the HTMS Samui sank after being hit by a US torpedo near Malaysia in 1945, killing 31 sailors.
During the Franco-Thai War four years earlier, the French Navy attacked Thai ships, sinking two and severely damaging a third.
Source: Benar News