Navy ship sinks, rescue mission underway


The HTMS Sukhothai, a Ratanakosin-class corvette, sank during stormy weather in the Gulf of Thailand on Sunday night, according to a Royal Thai Navy spokesman.

The ship sank 20 nautical miles (32 kilometres) off the coast of Bang Saphan district, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Navy spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin said.

A rescue mission was launched on Monday for 31 crew still missing after the sinking, according to local media reports.

The warship was on patrol when it began listing in strong winds and waves, causing seawater to flow through its exhaust pipe and flood the electrical system, said Pokkrong. This caused the engine and pumps to stop. The crew lost control and were unable to right the vessel as the hull flooded. The ship sank beneath the waves at 11.30pm. The Ratanakosin-class ships were built for a crew of 15 officers and 72 enlisted men.

The RTN launched a search and rescue mission with three ships – HTMS Angthong, Bhumibol Adulyadej and Kraburi – and two helicopters. Crewmembers were rescued and brought aboard the HTMS Kraburi, the Navy said.

The Sukhothai is one of only seven corvettes in the Navy.

The Ratanakosin-class ships comprise two corvettes built in the United States by Tacoma Boatbuilding Company in 1986. The Sukhothai’s sister ship is the HTMS Ratanakosin.

The Sukhothai was commissioned on February 19, 1987 and measures 76.82 metres long with a beam of 9.55 metres and a draft of 2.44 metres. Two MTU 20V1163 TB83 diesel engines gave it a maximum speed of 26 knots (48 km/h) and a range of 3,000 nautical miles (5,600km).

The Sukhothai was commissioned for sea combat, anti-submarine and air-defence missions.

It was equipped with a 76/62mm cannon, a 40L70mm double-barrel machine gun, two Oerlikon 20mm cannons, eight Harpoon (missile) launchers, eight surface-to-air Albatross missile launchers and six torpedo tubes.