Gov steps into battle over yacht recovery fee

PHUKET: Chris Sieber and his wife Surapa Srijutanat – owners of Kilo, the Phuket-based catamaran that was recently recovered off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands after going missing in December – have received a promise of help from Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura to try to reduce the massive salvage fee being demanded by the Indian Coast Guard.

The 46-foot Kilo went missing from Phuket on December 17 and was recovered on January 20 off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, some 725 kilometers from Phuket.

The yacht is registered in K. Surapa’s name. She explained that the Port Blair authorities had contacted her to say that they were going to charge US$60,000 (2.4 million baht) as the fee for their Coast Guard boat having towed the yacht to the islands’ administrative center, Port Blair.

She said, “I was happy to get the news that the yacht had been found but dismayed when I learned that they wanted us to pay that amount of money.

“According to international law, yacht owners are not obliged to pay anything [for such services]. Nevertheless, we’re willing to pay as much as US$10,000 (400,000 baht). But US$60,000 is way over the top.”

She said that was she sure that Gov Udomsak could help to obtain a reduction in the fee so that the yacht could be brought home.

Gov Udomsak said, “I will also contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and get in touch with the Indian Ambassador to Thailand to help with this issue.”

He added, “Phuket Province realizes that there are some problems in losing yachts in this manner and that is one of the reasons why we will get a 70-million-baht budget this year to develop a public marina in Chalong Bay. People who don’t want to put their yachts into a private marina will be able to moor there safely.”

K. Surapa said, “We plan to pay the people who found Kilo US$5,000 (200,000 baht). We will go to Port Blair tomorrow in the hope of getting our yacht back.”

Phuket News

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