New RTN frigate to cost 15 billion baht

The vessel is not a replacement for HTMS Sukhothai that sank last year

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) wants 15 billion baht (about US $460 million) over the next five years to buy a new frigate. The new RTN frigate is to be built in Thailand.

A previous RTN frigate, HTMS Sukhothai, is under 50 metres of water off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan. The ship sank on December 18 last year. Only 76 of the 105 crew on board at the time survived.

The cost of raising the wreck has been widely criticised. The RTN clearly harbours aspirations that the Sukhothai may be completely re-floated and return to duty, though that outcome seems highly unlikely.

While plans to acquire the new vessel have been in the pipeline since long before the Sukhothai disaster, and the government has already agreed in principle, questions are sure to be asked regarding lessons learned since the ship went down. A key crew member was not on board at the time of the incident and while the sea was rough, it could hardly be considered hazardous to a naval vessel such as the Sukhothai.

The first instalment requested in the 2024 fiscal year is 1.7 billion baht (US$52 million). The government wants the new RTN frigate built locally in partnership with an overseas shipbuilder, according to Bangkok Post. Shipyards from France, Russia, South Korea, and Spain are among those to express interest.

The warship is part of the priority development of the national defence complex. According to the terms of the proposal, foreign partners will be obliged to transfer all technology to the RTN.

The RTN already has a regatta of vessel designs from the United States, China, and Spain, to name but a few. The ongoing saga of RTN submarine engines continues to delight a bemused nation.

Navy welcomes HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej
The RTN’s newest frigate HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej, named after the late Thai King Rama IX, was commissioned into service in 2019. HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej was built by South Korea’s Daewoo.

The RTN procured the 3,650-ton HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej frigate from South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in 2013. The vessel was commissioned in January 2019.

Politics NewsThailand News

Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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