Navy to ask for 200 million baht to raise HTMS Sukhothai from seabed


The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) said it will ask the Defence Ministry for 200 million baht to salvage the stricken HTMS Sukhothai from the Gulf of Thailand.

After receiving the budget, the RTN will select a contractor for the salvage mission, said RTN spokesman Admiral Pokkrong Monthatphalin, adding that the goal was to bring the ship back to shore in as perfect condition as possible.

Divers and a remote submersible have located the ship lying 50 metres underwater on the seabed.

“Further damage to the ship during the salvage operation could undermine the investigation into the cause of sinking,” Pokkrong said. “We believe the estimated cost of 200 million baht is suitable for this operation, which requires a high level of expertise.”

The investigation into the sinking is being led by RTN chief-of-staff Adm Chonlathit Nawanukhro. The probe has questioned hundreds of Navy personnel, both HTMS Sukhothai crew and rescuers. Initial findings announced last month are that water entered the ship during stormy conditions, cutting power to the engines.

The corvette-class ship sank in a storm some 20 nautical miles (32 kilometres) off the coast of Bang Saphan district in Prachuap Khiri Khan on December 18 last year.

A total of 105 crew were on board.

Seventy-six crewmembers were rescued and brought safely to shore. The bodies of 24 sailors have been found and five remain missing.

On Wednesday the Defence Ministry issued a statement that the five missing crew are presumed dead.

The missing crew were named as Chief Petty Officer First Class Jirawat Jaroensilp, Petty Officer Second Class Sophon Wongsanit, Seaman Abdul-aziz Ma’ae, Seaman Chaichana Changwad and Seaman Thaweesak Saesiew.