Phuket officials probe safety standards after speedboat’s reckless wave maneuvering

No punishment was given after viral video of Phuket speedboats. (via Teerapong Hempitak).

Following a public outcry driven by online footage showcasing the reckless manoeuvring of a tour speedboat through large waves, the Phuket Marine Office has released a statement on the incident. The speedboat, distinctly labelled Natthicha 555, flagrantly disregarded a water safety notice by failing to equip its tourists with life jackets.

The persisting unsafe sea conditions were the triggering reason behind an investigation, initiated only after the clip caught considerable public attention. The Natthicha 555 was caught on tape off the coast of Phuket exhibiting erratic changes in direction while closely shadowing another tour speedboat – TSK 6.

Amidst this grievous negligence, both speedboats were put under thorough scrutiny, even though no complaints against TSK 6 or its operator had surfaced yet, according to Phuket Marine Chief Natchaphong Pranit.

“From specific observations, it was immediately revealing for all to see, tourists on the Natthicha 555 weren’t wearing any life jackets, violating the water safety advisory by the Phuket Marine Chief.”

Two key facts were underscored during the enquiry: First, when the boats were on their way back to Phuket from Phi Phi Island on August 1, waves reaching up to three metres tall were present. Secondly, the Natthicha 555 speedboat was accommodating 11 individuals with eight of them being passengers returning to Vanich Pier in Ratsada, reported the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department.

Pramongkit brothers, 25 year old Jiratheep and 32 year old Pichet, the driver and mechanic onboard Natthicha 555, respectively, had all valid permits to operate. The boat was also found to be properly registered.

Conversely, TSK 6, transporting 42 tourists, two guides, and three crew members, was on its way to AA Pier at Laem Nga, Ratsada. The driver of the boat, 31 year old Rewut Phutthawong, owned a legitimate boat operating licence. Khwanchai Pramongkit, the onboard mechanic 48 years of age, was also in possession of all necessary certificates.

Following rigorous scrutiny, both boats were considered to be seaworthy and were fully loaded with essential and functional safety equipment. All these investigations were conducted under the purview of Section 291 of the Navigation in Thai Waters Act.

Despite the credibility of the accusations, the Phuket Marine Office press conference held on August 3 had no mentions of punitive actions targeted at the Natthicha 555 speedboat driver, Jiratheep Pramongkit, for his wild boat operating under hazardous sea conditions. There also wasn’t any word about retribution against the company operating the boat.

Jiratheep offered his defence in the press conference, stating the conditions were safe when they launched off at 3pm from Phi Phi Island. Due to unforeseen storms and large waves, he was left with no choice but to swerve close to the nearby larger boat, TSK 6.

The press conference concluded with Phuket Marine Office recalling the exact numbers of marine traffic in the region, noting the approximate vessels that need to be supervised. They strongly emphasised their commitment to ameliorating existing safety measures and heightening the importance of life jackets in the future.

Phuket NewsTransport News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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