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

Photo via Royal Thai Navy

This story has been updated.

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 33 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 6 pm, the HTMS Sukhothai reported a problem with one of the ship’s two engines. At 7 pm, 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 9.20 pm, 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 10 pm, Prachuap Khiri Khan’s provincial governor held an urgent meeting to mobilise more than 20 rescue teams.

By 11.30 pm, 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.

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