11 July 2024

The Navy is to let the US military to investigate the cause of the sinking of the US-built Sukhothai Rattanakosin-class corvette vessel in the seas off Prachuap Khiri Khan province in December of 2022, as requested by the Joint US Military Advisory Group Thailand (JUSMAGTHAI), Admiral Adung Phan-iam, commander-in-chief of the RTN, said today.

JUSMAGTHAI wrote two letters to the Thai Navy reminding it to comply with the terms of the US-Thai military agreement pertaining to the acquisition of US-made military hardware.

Admiral Adung said that the US team, which will conduct an undersea survey of the sunken vessel, will arrive in Thailand with US troops, who will participate in the Cobra Gold military exercise in February.

HTMS Sukhothai, is one of the two Rattanakosin-class corvettes, built by US ship-building company Tacoma Boatbuilding. With a complement of 105 on board, the vessel sank during a storm off Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khiri Khan on December 18, 2022. 76 crew were rescued, 24 died and five remain missing.

The Navy’s commander-in-chief said that, since the US has offered to help in the investigation and in salvaging some of the armaments on board, he has ordered the bidding to find a salvage company to be suspended.

A Thai-Chinese joint venture company reportedly joined the bidding to undertake the salvage operations.

Over a year since the sinking, the Navy is yet to disclose its own findings about the cause of the ship’s loss.

He also said that, in the end, salvaging the vessel may not be necessary and the wreck will be left in place, in memory of the dead and missing crew members, adding that this will also save the cost of a salvage operation.