Death toll of sunken Thai navy ship rises to 18, 11 sailors missing

The Royal Thai Navy recovered the bodies of three more missing HTMS Sukhothai sailors from the Gulf of Thailand yesterday, December 25, bringing the total death toll from the tragedy to 18, according to a navy spokesperson.

Of the 105 crew members aboard the warship when it sank over a week ago, 76 have been rescued, 18 died and 11 are still missing.

At 5.30pm yesterday, spokesperson for the navy Admiral Pokrong Monthatphalin reported the latest results from the navy’s continued search for missing sailors in Thailand’s waters and coastlines.

Admiral Pokrong reported that three bodies of HTMS sailors were found yesterday. Their identities must be confirmed by DNA testing which will take three to four days, said the spokesperson.

The navy expects to find all the bodies of missing sailors, added Admiral Pokrong.

UPDATE 5: Navy ship sinks in Thailand: ‘There weren’t enough life jackets on board’

In a race against time, the Royal Thai Navy continues their search today for missing crew members from the HTMS Sukhothai which sank off the coast of Thailand on Sunday night.

So far, the navy’s HTMS Kraburi has brought ashore the bodies of six crew members found floating in the sea. The navy is still searching for 23 missing sailors.

Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy Choengchai Chomchoengphaet confessed yesterday that “there weren’t enough life jackets on board” the HTMS Sukhothai when it plunged to the bottom of the sea on Sunday night.

The navy chief said that 30 sailors out of the whole crew were left without life jackets when the vessel sank, around 19 nautical miles off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Out of the 75 people initially rescued, 18 were not wearing life jackets, said the navy chief.

Meaning, of the 23 sailors still lost at sea, 12 are not wearing life jackets.

Admiral Choengchai said that “a life jacket does not guarantee survival.” He said that he did not think all 30 sailors missing life jackets would die. All of the crew are trained in survival skills, he added.

The most important survival skill for those lost at sea is not being a good swimmer, but energy conservation, said the navy chief.

The navy has set up a centre to support victims of the tragedy and their families.

UPDATE 4: Navy ship sinks in Gulf of Thailand: 77 rescued, 4 dead, 24 missing

In a press release this afternoon, the Royal Thai Navy reported the results of their continued search for missing sailors from the HTMS Sukhothai which sank in the Gulf of Thailand on Sunday.

On Sunday night, 75 crew members were rescued from the sinking ship.

Navy vessels have since found two more sailors alive in the Gulf of Thailand. One sailor, Chief Petty Officer Jirawat Choroensil, was rescued this afternoon and another, Chief Petty Officer Natee Timdee, was rescued yesterday morning. Both are safe.

The bodies of four sailors have been recovered from the waters, reported the navy.

In total, 77 sailors have been rescued, 4 have died and 24 are still missing.

UPDATE 3: Navy rescues 1 sailor from Gulf of Thailand, 30 still missing

Yesterday, the Royal Thai Navy rescued one missing sailor – Chief Petty Officer Natee Timdee – found floating in the Gulf of Thailand. The navy reports that 30 sailors are still missing.

At 8:45pm, the HTMS Kraburi docked at Prachuap Pier after patrolling the waters in search of missing soldiers from the HTMS Sukhothai, which sank around 19 nautical miles from the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province on Sunday night.

The army reports that Chief Petty Officer Natee Timdee was given first aid after the navy found him floating in the middle of the sea. Natee suffered wounds on his head and ankle but the army says his overall condition is “safe.” He was taken to Bang Saphan Hospital for treatment.

Commander of the First Naval Area Command Vice Admiral Pichai Lorchoosakool said that army vessels HTMS Bhumibol and HTMS Ang Thong are searching 24 hours a day for the 30 sailors who are still missing. Four helicopters have also joined the search.

There is some confusion around the numbers as the navy also reported that one sailor from their original list of 106 crew members never boarded the HTMS Sukhothai, according to Vice Admiral Pichai. However, the army has since confirmed there are still 30 sailors missing and has published a full list of their names.

UPDATE 2: Body and 9 sailors found alive by oil tanker are not from HTMS Sukhothai, says navy

The Royal Thai Navy says the nine sailors found alive and one dead body discovered by an oil tanker in the Gulf of Thailand are not crew members from the HTMS Sukhothai which sank off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province last night as widely reported in Thai media.

At least four boats sank in Thailand’s waters among four-metre-high waves and strong winds today and yesterday.

Oil tanker PATARAVARIN 88 pulled nine exhausted sailors and one body from the sea today near the coast of Chumphon province. Thai media reported that these were members of the sunken HTMS Sukhothai. However, the navy confirms they are sailors from a sunken cargo ship.

Early this morning, several containers fell from a cargo ship carrying rubberwood, causing it to lose balance 5.7 nautical miles from Pak Nam in Chumphon province. At 8.32am, the PATARAVARIN 88 reported pulling the entire 10-member crew, one dead, from the water.

The navy confirms there are still 31 marines missing from the HTMS Sukhothai.

Yesterday, a fishing boat sank around 30 nautical miles southwest of Samae San Island in Chon Buri province yesterday morning. All members of the crew were rescued and taken ashore to Samae San Island.

At around the same time, five fishermen catching squid requested help after their boat sank 19 nautical miles from the mouth of Songkhla Waterway.

The HTMS Sukhothai sank just before midnight with 106 crew members on board.

UPDATE 1: Navy ship sinks in the Gulf of Thailand, 84 rescued, 1 dead, 21 missing

In total, 84 members of the Royal Thai Navy have been rescued from the Gulf of Thailand after the HTMS Sukhothai navy vessel sank to the bottom of the sea last night amid rough conditions.

One body has been recovered and 21 crew members are still missing.

As of noon today, the navy had rescued 75 crew members from the sea, and 31 were still missing.

At 12.40pm, oil tanker PATARAVARIN 88 reported rescuing nine exhausted people from the sea and recovering one body.

The PATARAVARIN 88 has not yet been able to return to shore due to rough conditions and insufficient fuel. The boat remains anchored somewhere near Koh Samet in Chumphon province.

The whereabouts of 21 crew members remain unknown.

ORIGINAL STORY: Navy ship sinks in the Gulf of Thailand, 73 rescued, 33 missing

The Royal Thai Navy‘s HTMS Sukhothai sank in the Gulf of Thailand last night, around 20 miles from the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, with 106 navy personnel on board.

Navy vessels, tug boats, and oil tankers rescued 73 crew members from the water, three of whom are in critical condition, and are still searching for 31 missing marines.

The HTMS Sukhothai departed from Sattahip Naval Base in Chon Buri province to perform navy missions in the Gulf of Thailand yesterday afternoon, reports the navy.

After crossing the gulf, the vessel met strong winds and tall waves and began tilting, around 20 nautical miles from Bang Saphan Pier in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

At around 6pm, the HTMS Sukhothai reported a problem with one of the ship’s two engines. At 7pm, the ship reported via radio that all engines had problems and that the hull was tilting 60-70 degrees, causing water to quickly spill into the boat.

Water flowed into the boat’s electrical system causing a power outage. The crew could no longer control the ship. The vessel stopped communicating after the radio communication room became submerged in seawater.

Another navy ship, the HTMS Kraburi, was heading to port in Prachuap Khiri Khan after aborting missions in the gulf amid three- to four-metre-high waves. The vessel turned around to help rescue crew members as the boat sank. Two nearby oil tankers joined the rescue mission.

At 9.20pm, two tug boats departed from Prachuap Port to rescue marines from the sinking ship. The navy deployed the HTMS Ang Thong, HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej and two helicopters to provide immediate assistance.

The ships were able to rescue 73 people from the water: 47 on the HTMS Kraburi, four on the tug boats, 20 on the Sri Chaiya oil tanker, and two on the Straits Energy oil tanker.

At 10pm, Prachuap Khiri Khan’s provincial governor held an urgent meeting to mobilise more than 20 rescue teams.

By 11.30pm, the HTMS Sukhothai sank to the bottom of the sea, about 19 nautical miles from shore. The ship operated for 36 years.

The search continues for 33 missing navy personnel. The navy confirmed that the ship had enough life jackets.

Yesterday, several ferries and boats were cancelled amid rough conditions in the Gulf of Thailand.

Thailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

Related Articles