11 July 2024

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has ordered three naval vessels from the First Fleet Command to be dispatched to help in containing oil leaking from a sunken tanker in the Gulf of Thailand, about 24 nautical miles from the Chumphon estuary, RTN Spokesman Vice Admiral Pokkrong Monthatphalin said today (Monday).

In addition to the three vessels, he said that a mine sweeping ship, which is equipped with a mine disposal vehicle (MDV) which can be converted for use in the clean-up operations, will also be sent to join the operations.

Two cargo containers carrying oil disposal equipment will also be loaded onto one of the vessels.

The spokesman said that the RTN Commander-in-Chief Admiral Somprasong Nilsamai has expressed concern over the oil spills and has instructed the RTN’s Operations Centre to monitor the situation closely and to keep him updated on a regular basis.

He assured, however, that the RTN is well-equipped, both in terms of equipment and personnel, to conduct the clean-up operations, as the personnel are trained annually.

An updated report said that the severity of the oil spillage is currently categorised as Level 1, because no more than 20 metric tonnes are estimated to have leaked from the sunken tanker, reportedly owned by Thai Laemthong Oil Trading Company.

Under maritime navigation laws, the owner of the sunken vessel must try to contain the oil spill for the first seven days with booms and chemical dispersant. In the next 15 days, it must try to salvage the sunken vessel.

If between 20 and 1,000 metric tonnes of oil leak out, the situation will be upgraded to Level 2 and the Marine Department will have to seek help from the RTN.

Meanwhile, the Pollution Control Department and the Marine and Coastal Natural Resources Department have taken steps to deal with any oil slicks swept onto beaches and in coastal waters.

The oil slicks are currently being swept, by currents and waves, towards beaches in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.