Connect with us

Opinion

Phuket’s killer boat Phoenix ripped apart for scrap metal

Published

 on 

PHOTO: 'Phoenix', today being taken apart to be sold off as scrap metal - Stephen Crone

OPINION

A very sorry sight today as an infamous relic of Thailand’s worst maritime disaster ends up being ripped apart and sold for scrap. Thai authorities will be glad to see the ghosts of ‘Phoenix’ gone once and for all.

On July 5, 2018, two tour boats capsized off the south west coast of Phuket, during a sudden storm. 46 people died and 3 were missing, never to be recovered. They had all headed out for a fun day of diving off the Phoenix PC Diving, which carried 101 people, including 89 tourists. All but 2 of the guests were Chinese nationals. 42 passengers aboard a second boat that sank, Serenita, also in the same are, were rescued.

The wreck of Phoenix was eventually salvaged and taken to the Rattanachai Shipyard on the east coast of Phuket Town. Alone and forgotten, it sat as a reminder of a litany of mistakes and the eventual calamity that ended up in the death of the 49 people. It’s also a sad reminder that every one of the Thai crew, including the captain, survived and made it into the life rafts, abandoning most of the Chinese passengers, many who were stuck downstairs when the boat capsized.

To this day there has been no official inquest or proper state investigation into the disaster, mostly caused by neglect from Thai authorities in ensuring that the Chinese-owned vessel was fit for purpose. It wasn’t. Phoenix was a poor copy of a similar boat design but had been ballasted incorrectly, not fitted with proper marine-grade equipment or windows, was carrying more people than permitted on the day and had somehow been able to acquire all the safety paperwork whilst clearly being poorly designed, built and equipped.

That the boat was at sea amid a savage westerly weather front, was never properly addressed. Even The Thaiger, monitoring the TMD weather radar from time to time, did 2 posts on the afternoon of the storm warning people about the impending weather front.

Even the ‘life jackets’ on board Phoenix were simply the bouyancy vests that many of the passengers would use when they went swimming during their trips. They certainly weren’t designed to support non-swimmers bobbing about in amongst 3 metre waves. Many of the drowned victims, including 16 children, were found dead, face-down, the next day scattered around the area. A proper life jacket would have forced the people in the water, even non-swimmers, onto their back.

WEARING THE RIGHT JACKET COULD SAVE YOUR LIFELast Friday many deceased Chinese tourists were found floating, face down, in the wake of Thursday evening's disaster. Bouyancy vests, life jackets, bouyancy aids – what's the difference? Tim gets into a pool to demonstrate how wearing the right 'vest' could save your life.

Posted by The Thaiger on Monday, July 9, 2018

Thai authorities famously apportioned a lot of the blame at the time to the Chinese “owners” (again, a Thai lawyer had set up an illegal Thai shelf company for the boat to conduct its business, including a Thai nominee director), with the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan at the time saying that “it was a matter of Chinese killing their own”. The Thai captain and the Thai crew have never gone to court or had to face any charges. The Thai builders of the boat or the Thai marine officials that ticked-off on all the paperwork, without ever actually checking the boat, also never faced prosecution.

Royal Thai Police Deputy Commander Gen Rungroj Sangkram, tasked with overseeing the investigation into the Phoenix disaster, assured the public that 2 officials at the Ship Standard Registration Bureau in Bangkok would face charges for their part in allowing the Phoenix to be approved and put to sea. They too have so far avoided prosecution.

And the police investigation report was never made public.

But today, at the Rattanachai Shipyard in Ratsada, the boat is now being pulled apart to be sold as scrap. The Thai government, who impounded the vessel, tried to auction it off for year, without success. It was eventually auctioned off last year to Preecha Jaiart and the new owner said he was going to re-fit the vessel for another life as a dive boat. But that never eventuated and now Phoenix will never again go to sea but will remain a painful memory for the families of the dead and a dark stain on Thailand’s marine bureaucracy.

The legacy of the sinking of Phoenix was mostly felt in the immediate 12 months following the incident with a big drop in Chinese tourism, by far the biggest feeder market for the island’s critical tourist industry. In fact the number of Chinese tourists visiting Phuket never again reached the sorts of numbers coming to the island before the sinking.

Phuket's killer boat Phoenix ripped apart for scrap metal | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Phoenix in its heyday as a dive boat serving Phuket’s popular day-trip industry

Phuket's killer boat Phoenix ripped apart for scrap metal | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: In the middle of being pulled apart for scrap – Stephen Crone

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Toby Andrews

    Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Not one person prosecuted. A corrupt investigation then, if they claim nobody is to blame.
    Add to the guilty the police for not prosecuting. Were they paid off?

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2011. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 42 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,950 in Thailand alone, hosted 1050 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand12 hours ago

Man arrested for spycam porn, 39 videos feature Thai stars

Thailand12 hours ago

Is poor English proficiency holding Thailand back?

Thailand12 hours ago

Shopee stops all bank payments after hackers steal from customer in Thailand

Sponsored20 hours ago

Challenges of starting a business in Thailand as a foreigner

Thailand12 hours ago

Thailand News Today | CAAT warns Thai VietJet for canceling three Phuket

Crime13 hours ago

Cat killer feels no guilt over sadistic act

Koh Samui13 hours ago

Koh Samui’s Moving Market – a hidden local treat

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Visa13 hours ago

Thailand’s 10 year LTR visa most popular among Americans and Chinese

Politics14 hours ago

Thailand PM wants to groom successor in two years

Bangkok14 hours ago

VIDEO: Taxi meter rises suspiciously quickly in Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand15 hours ago

Man wins 144 million baht in Thailand’s lottery

Bangkok15 hours ago

Plumber murders and robs Thai woman in Bangkok

Drugs16 hours ago

Man returns for bag with meth pills he left at restaurant

Transport16 hours ago

Porsche sales in Thailand roaring thanks to nation’s entrepreneurs

Visa16 hours ago

Overstay crackdown uses facial recognition tech

Thailand17 hours ago

Father dies trying to save son from teenage gang

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending