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Thai Navy Continues Search for Missing Sailors from HTMS Sukhothai

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Thai Navy Continues Search for Missing Sailors from HTMS Sukhothai

The Royal Thai Navy is continuing to search for 31 missing sailors from HTMS Sukhothai, which sank on Sunday about 20 nautical miles off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan with 106 crew onboard.

As of yesterday evening, 75 crew members had been rescued by search and rescue teams, aided by two helicopters and the crew of HTMS Angthong, HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej and HTMS Kraburi.

According to navy spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatpalin, HTMS Sukhothai was on patrol off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Bang Saphan district when it was battered by high waves and strong winds.

The ship listed sharply and took on water, causing damage to its electrical systems and engine failure. He claimed that without power, the corvette listed even more and eventually capsized.

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HTMS Kraburi arrived with water pumps at 8.40 p.m. on Sunday to assist Sukhothai’s crew in attempting to salvage the sinking corvette, but they were unable to do so due to rough seas.

Two Seahawk helicopters dropped eight rafts close to the ship, allowing some survivors to pull themselves out of the water. As of yesterday’s press time, 31 crew members were still missing.

Admiral Pokkrong denied reports that ten more people had been rescued, one of whom had died, claiming that those details referred to the Anuphum, a cargo vessel that also capsized on Sunday.

He also stated that the search and rescue operation had been expanded to cover approximately 16 square kilometers. The navy asked all vessels to avoid the search area yesterday.

Thai Navy Continues Search for Missing Sailors from HTMS Sukhothai

Responding to claims that HTMS Sukhothai sank because it was carrying 106 people when it was only designed to carry 87, Adm Pokkrong said the 87-man limit only applied when the ship was fully loaded with its full complement of weapons.

He said a fact-finding inquiry would be launched to look into the sinking, along with a salvage operation to raise the ship from the sea bed.

Separately, according to defence spokesman Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has directed the navy to mobilize resources for the search and rescue mission.

Meanwhile, the Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Centre (Thai-MECC) yesterday urged residents in nine provinces along the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea to closely monitor hourly weather forecasts after several vessels, including the HTMS Sukhothai, capsized on Sunday.

Thai-MECC Region 1 reports that the Anuphum encountered heavy seas about 5.7 nautical miles from Chumphon, causing the ship to list.

The cargo ship’s ten crew were rescued by another vessel, the Pataravarin 88, it said.

Thai-MECC Region 2 also reported that the trawler Sor Nopparat 4 capsized about 30 nautical miles southwest of Koh Samae Sarn, fortunately saving all of its crew.

Santhat Samut 2, a merchant ship carrying nine crew members and a cargo of timber, sent a distress signal before sinking about 35 nautical miles from Samui.

The ship’s nine crew members were all safely rescued, and 30 containers were discovered near the shore in Surat Thani’s Chaiya district, according to the office.

The Royal Thai Navy corvette HTMS Sukhothai had been in service since 1987.

It was one of two Ratanakosin-class corvettes — HTMS Ratanakosin (FS-441) and HTMS Sukhothai (FS-442) — built by the now-defunct Tacoma Boatbuilding Company in the United States.

The HTMS Sukhothai was named after the first king of the Sukhothai Kingdom and measured 76.7 meters in length, 9.6 meters in width, and 26.82 meters in height, with a sonar dome measuring 4.5 meters.

Its main tasks were anti-submarine warfare, maritime patrols, convoy escorts, and providing supporting fire against shore targets.

The Sukhothai was outfitted with advanced weapon systems and sensors, allowing it to perform a variety of tasks ranging from submarine suppression to dealing with threats from the air and surface vessels.

It also had two Harpoon block 1C surface-to-surface missile launchers and an eight-cell Albatros surface-to-air missile launcher, as well as surface-search, air-search, and fire control radars, including Sperry Vision Master FT, Furuno, Scout, and DA05 aerial radars.


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