6 June 2024

More than a year after the sinking of HTMS Sukhothai, a Rattanakosin-class corvette, in the Gulf of Thailand off Prachuap Khiri Khan province on the night of December 18, 2022, the Thai Navy has blamed a sudden, unexpected and extreme change in weather and sea conditions for the foundering of the vessel and the deaths of 24 officers and men. Five are still unaccounted for.

The Sukhothai was only rated for navigating in seas of up to a maximum of 4 meters,” he said, adding that the 6-meter waves made it impossible for the captain to control the vessel, eventually resulting in its sinking.

He claimed that six other vessels, including a 2,123-tonne cargo freighter, also sank in the Gulf on that night and early next morning.

Admiral Adoong said that the crew on board Sukhothai were unable to perform their duties as normal in such conditions and it was dark with poor visibility, which hampered rescue operations. He added heavy seas would have scattered the crew over a wide area, making it difficult for them to survive under such extreme weather conditions.

Meanwhile, Rear Admiral Apirom Ngernbumroong, chief of the Naval Science Department, disclosed that, after the sinking of the Sukhothai, the Thai Navy conducted four diving operations to survey the wreck, the last one being in cooperation with US Navy.

He said the fourth diving operation did not find any trace of the five missing crew, but did discover that water leaked into vessel through the hull, causing the vessel to list.

He also reported that a steel plate, intended to protect the vessel against waves, was severely damaged.