Thai Navy expects challenges in salvage of HTMS Sukhothai off Prachuap coast


The Royal Thai Navy is working to salvage the sunken warship HTMS Sukhothai and determine the cause of its malfunction in December of last year.

Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief Adm Choengchai Chomchoengpaet said the navy is currently seeking qualified contractors to salvage the Sukhothai, a Ratanakosin-class corvette that sank off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province on December 18th, 2022. However, he voiced concern that the recovery would be challenging due to the vessel having sunk to roughly 50 meters, making salvage difficult without risking further damage to the vessel.

The navy chief added that salvage is estimated to cost more than 200 million baht due to these challenges.

The Sukhothai sank about 20 nautical miles off the coast of Bang Saphan (บางสะพาน) district in stormy weather with 105 crew onboard. 76 members of the crew were rescued while the bodies of 24 were recovered, while five crew members remain missing.

The Navy chief added that the committee examining the cause of the tragedy has completed interviews with 289 witnesses, including surviving crew members, ship mechanics, and volunteers who assisted in the search and rescue mission. The navy is also reviewing witness testimonies and will determine why the ship sank after inspecting the salvaged vessel.

An initial inquiry by the navy’s Quartermaster Department also discovered that the Sukhothai had 130 life jackets on board before sinking, which should have been more than sufficient for its crew. However, the navy is looking into why some of the crew members identified, including survivors, were not wearing life jackets during the incident.