23 May 2024

The former captain of the ill-fated HTMS Sukhothai, a Rattanakosin-class corvette, has offered his resignation, which will take effect as soon as he completes the 15 day detention, imposed by the Navy for the sinking of the vessel in rough seas in the Gulf of Thailand on the night of December 18, 2022.

Twenty-four of the ship’s complement died and five others are still unaccounted for.

Commander Pichitchai Thuennadee, the former captain, offered his deep condolences, once again, to the families of those who died or are still missing, as soon the results of the RTN’s year-long investigation into the loss of the vessel were published at a press conference held Tuesday.

Commander Pichitchai said that he would like to reiterate that this was a tragic accident and every member of the crew, including himself, had tried their utmost in an extreme situation, which went beyond their control.

In his capacity as the captain of the vessel, Pichitchai said that he had assessed the situation on the night of December 18 and made the decision to order the vessel to head back to Sattahip naval base, because the ship was under control at that time.

He claimed, however, that the weather and sea conditions changed for the worse very quickly which, in hindsight, means he may not have been cautious enough.

On Tuesday, the Navy blamed the sinking on a sudden charge in the weather and sea conditions, resulting in waves as high as six metres, making it impossible to control the vessel which, eventually, took on water and began to list and then sink.

Pichitchai said that he takes full responsibility for the tragic incident and will accept any consequences his superiors decide are appropriate. When everything is settled, he said he will leave naval service.

He maintains that he has decided to quit of his own free will, without pressure, and that the Navy’s findings on the tragic loss are transparent.