RTN dives deep into China’s embrace with submarine deal

Photo: Youtube.

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN), under the command of Navy Chief Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet, confirmed plans to seek governmental approval for the purchase of a Chinese submarine, equipped with a Chinese-made engine. This decision was announced yesterday, following the navy’s agreement to install a CHD620 Chinese engine in the S26T Yuan-class submarine currently being constructed by China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC).

The Chinese engine has undergone rigorous inspection and has been approved by the RTN for its safety and efficiency. To further instil confidence in this choice, CSOC has extended the warranty on the submarine engine from two to eight years. This warranty includes coverage for spare parts and the provision of Chinese officials for support during the maintenance of the submarine over this eight-year period, which may also encompass possible upgrades.

Adm Choengchai emphasised the significance of acquiring the navy’s first Chinese submarine to boost maritime security and strengthen its operations within the Southeast Asia region.

However, there is speculation about the new government possibly opting for a German-made engine for the Chinese submarine project, or even purchasing a German submarine.

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Addressing these possibilities, Adm Choengchai revealed that Germany had declined to sell its engine for a Chinese-made submarine. He added that a new procurement project could potentially exceed the RTN’s budget. The RTN had previously shown interest in Germany’s MTU396 diesel engine for the submarine project.

In the coming week, Admiral Choengchai plans to finalise the RTN’s submarine request for the new government, ahead of his retirement at the end of the month. If the Chinese-made engine receives approval, the construction of the ordered Chinese submarine, which is already underway, is predicted to take approximately three more years to complete, reported Bangkok Post.

Thailand has been exploring the possibility of engaging in a barter trade arrangement with China as a solution to address procurement challenges related to the submarine. Read more HERE.

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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.