Thai and US navies kickstart mission to salvage sunken HTMS Sukhothai

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A joint military exercise between the Thai and US navies initiated a challenging mission yesterday, involving a squad of 49 divers to salvage the sunken HTMS Sukhothai over 19 days. The operation is part of the Cobra Gold military exercise hosted in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Admiral Adoong Pan-iam, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) commander-in-chief, visited the mission base, the US Navy’s Ocean Valor offshore supply ship, to oversee the operation and motivate the team. The Ocean Valor, carrying the necessary equipment, had sailed from Hawaii after receiving the equipment by aircraft and loading it onto the ship in Singapore, reported Bangkok Post.

Adm. Adoong expressed his gratitude for the assistance provided by the United States.

“We are touched and feel grateful for the assistance from the United States.”

The team, comprising 35 RTN divers and 14 US Navy divers, is strategically divided into groups of three. Two members of each group work underwater, while the third member stays on base. The undersea operation’s intricate timeline includes ten minutes to dive down from the surface to the wreck site, where they spend approximately 40-45 minutes. The return journey also takes ten minutes. After these underwater expeditions, the divers undergo an hour-long treatment in a hyperbaric chamber.

Adm. Adoong announced that the initial mission would concentrate on retrieving the ship’s nameplate. Subsequent operations will focus on the recovery of the ship and the corvette members. Efforts to demolish hazardous ammunition and disarm weapons will follow.

The salvage mission is scheduled to conclude on March 19. During this phase, the navy will determine which items from the ship will be preserved for educational purposes, Adm. Adoong noted.

The unfortunate sinking of HTMS Sukhothai in the Gulf of Thailand occurred on December 19, 2022. Out of the 105 individuals on board, 76 were rescued, 24 lost their lives, and five are still unaccounted for.

In related news, over 4,000 personnel aboard USS Somerset and USS Miguel Keith participated in Cobra Gold 2024, a joint military exercise in Thailand, involving 30 nations.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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