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Sunken Thai Navy Warship Lacked Sufficient Life Vests for Crew



Sunken Thai Navy Warship Lacked Sufficient Life Vests for Crew

According to Deputy Defence Minister Chaicharn Changmongkol, an investigation has been launched into why there were not enough life vest onboard the Royal Thai Navy warship that capsized on Sunday, killing six people and leaving many more missing.

General Chaicharn, who represents Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, was grilled in parliament on Thursday about the deadly tragedy.

Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat, a Move Forward Party MP, questioned why the HTMS Sukhothai was sent to sea despite the bad weather, and whether the Meteorological Department’s forecast was considered before setting sail.

“I’m also curious if there were enough life jackets for the crew members on board,” he said. “Who will accept responsibility for the personnel losses and the grief felt by their families?”

In response, Gen Chaicharn admitted that the cause of the ship’s sinking was unknown at the time. He stated that after the ship went down, the matter was reported to Gen Prayut, who directed the navy to immediately rescue the crew members of the HTMS Sukhothai.

He stated that before leaving, the navy checked the weather using a Meteorological Department forecast. He also stated that the crew had conducted regular emergency drills.

“An investigation has also been launched to determine whether there was sufficient life-saving equipment on board to provide an explanation to the public,” he added. He stated that the HTMS Sukhothai was refitted between 2018 and 2020 before returning to service last year.

Warship had a full crew

With 105 crew on board, the HTMS Sukhothai sank on Sunday night about 20 nautical miles off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan. According to Navy spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatpalin, the ship was on patrol off the coast of Bang Saphan district when it was battered by rough seas and strong winds.

The ship listed sharply and took on water, damaging its electrical systems and causing the engines to fail, he said, adding that without power, the corvette listed even more and capsized.

As of yesterday, 82 of the 105 crew members on board the corvette when it went down had been found, according to the navy. Six people were found dead, and 23 people were still missing, according to the report.

A body was discovered in the sea near Cape Sui and Koh Set in Surat Thani’s Chaiya district yesterday, according to the navy. According to the report, the body was sent for identification.

Vice Admiral Pichai Lorchusakul, commander of the First Naval Area Command, stated yesterday evening that preliminary analysis determined the body was not that of a sailor.

Meanwhile, Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin, a navy spokesman, told the press that the navy lacks the expertise to salvage sunken ships and must hire a private company to do the job. It has budgeted 100 million baht to salvage the vessel, and a contract will be awarded through a bidding process.

Pokkrong stated that the salvage mission will begin once the vessel’s missing crew members are located.

He stated that the ship must be salvaged to prevent oil from leaking, and that leaking oil would be disastrous for marine life.

“The ship went down to only 40 meters, so its wreckage could still block the path of other vessels,” Pokkrong explained.

The sinking of the HTMS Sukhothai was described as a “historic loss” to the navy, with estimated damages of more than 1 billion baht, excluding the cost of lost lives.

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