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Navy Captain of Warship that Sank and Claimed 29 Lives Resigns

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Captain of Sunken Navy Warship Sends Message

The navy captain of the Royal Thai warship HTMS Sukhothai said on Tuesday that he will resign his commission from the navy, accepting responsibility for the corvette’s sinking, which killed 29 crew.

The Royal Thai Navy blamed the catastrophe on Captain Phichitchai Thueannadee’s “reckless” decision not to dock the corvette at the nearest port, as well as heavy waves and unforeseen punctures. The captain would be detained for 15 days but would not face a civil lawsuit, the Royal Thai Navy said at a press conference to reveal the findings of its investigation into the event.

The navy warship HTMS Sukhothai sank in the Gulf of Thailand off Prachuap Khiri Khan province on the night of December 18, 2022, killing 24 officers and crew. Five are still missing and feared dead. The navy’s commander-in-chief, Adm. Adung Pan-Iam, told a press briefing at the Navy Auditorium that the corvette could resist wave heights of up to 2.5 metres.

However, on December 18, 2022, the waves were unusually high, reaching up to six metres as the corvette traveled from the Sattahip Naval Base in Chon Buri to Chumphon province.

HTMS Sukhothai

Navy officials said heavy waves destroyed the wave breaker in front of the corvette’s 76mm gun turret. The dislodged wave breaker also created a one-square-inch rupture in the vessel’s steel deck.

An unnamed heavy and hard item also struck the gun turret, causing damage. The damaged turret also featured a hole that allowed water inside the vessel.

An inspection also revealed two ruptures in the left gunwale, approximately five feet above the typical water level. The ruptures were produced by exterior and unidentified items, and had nothing to do with the corvette’s welded parts. The ruptures encompassed a total area of 80 square inches.

The commander did not dock the vessel at the adjacent Bang Saphan port in Prachuap Khiri Khan province due to strong waves and a lack of tugboats to enable safe docking, according to the navy.

Sunken Thai Navy Warship Lacked Sufficient Life Vests for Crew

At the time, the captain was unaware of the damaged corvette. As a result, he resolved to return the corvette back to Sattahip, despite the distance, in order to salvage the ship.

The Royal Thai Navy investigation determined that, while the commander had no intention of sinking the vessel, his choice to return it to Sattahip was imprudent. While Navy Captain Phichitchai would not face a civil lawsuit, Bang Saphan police would examine criminal charges against the navy captain.

Salvaging the entire submerged corvette from its 50-meter depth would be too expensive, and success was not certain, Adm Adung stated.

Navy Captain Phichitchai apologized for the event and stated that he and other crew aboard the corvette did their best to deal with the situation, which proved to be unmanageable. He stated that he opted to return the yacht to Sattahip because it was not listing at the moment, but weather conditions worsened later.

HTMS Sukhothai

HTMS Sukhothai was a Chakri Naruebet-class offshore patrol vessel in the Royal Thai Navy. Bollinger Shipyards built it in the United States and commissioned it in 2014. The ship’s principal missions include maritime security, search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance.

The HMTS Sukhothai, at 90 meters long and weighing over 3,000 tons, delivered a tremendous punch. It is armed with a 76mm naval gun, two 30mm cannons, and machine guns. The ship could launch two rigid-hull inflatable boats for boarding operations. It also carries a Seahawk helicopter to expand its surveillance capabilities.

With its modern sensors and combat systems, the ship can efficiently patrol Thailand’s waterways. It employs navigational radar, fire control radar, and an electro-optical tracking system. The Sukhothai is also very agile, reaching a top speed of 29 knots.

The Sukhothai, manned by more than 100 sailors and officials, exemplifies Thailand’s dedication to preserving its maritime interests. It routinely patrols the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. The ship had also participated in international anti-piracy efforts and supplied disaster aid when needed.

Navy Captain Sacked For Disgracing Navy While Intoxicated

Captain Sacked For Disgracing Navy While Intoxicated

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