Wave-riding rebels: Phuket probe targets speedboat drivers who ignored safety notice

Picture courtesy of Teerapong Hempitak

An investigation is currently underway concerning two speedboat drivers who allegedly flouted a safety notice issued by the Phuket Marine Office. This unfolded on Tuesday, August 1 when the captains reportedly displayed reckless behaviour by navigating their boats precariously in large waves and powerful winds whilst making their way back from Phi Phi Island.

The probe into the conduct of these speedboat operators was launched after the emergence of an online video that depicted the speedboats hurtling through mammoth waves at high speed. It was evident in the visuals that one of the speedboats embarked on a directional shift, seeming to engage in a chase with the first speedboat – all this, while the passengers on board were visibly not wearing life jackets.

In their response to the incident, Phuket Marine Office confirmed that the two speedboats were heading back to Phuket from Phi Phi Island at approximately 2.30pm. During this time, they faced waves that were ascending to heights of up to 3 metres, as acknowledged in a statement put forward by the Phuket Public Relations Department.

In contrast, the Phuket Marine Office has yet to take any considerable action regarding the incident and has diverted its attention to reminding boat operators about the implementation of safety measures in such dangerous maritime conditions.

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One of the speedboats in question, named Natthicha 555, was en route to Vanich Pier in Ratsada. This boat had 11 occupants on board, inclusive of eight passengers. Documentation confirmed that the registration of the Natthicha 555 was in order and both the operator, 25 year old Chiratheep Pramongkit, as well as the 32 year old mechanic, Pichet Pramongkit, had the appropriate operating permits, reported The Phuket News.

The second speedboat under scrutiny was identified as TSK 6, which was returning to AA Pier at Laem Nga, Ratsada, positioned east of Phuket Town, on Koh Siray. The boat had 42 tourists plus five crew members on board. The boat operator, 31 year old Rewut Phutthawong, held a legitimate boat operating license, and the onboard mechanic, 48 year old Khwanchai Pramongkit, was also qualified.

After the respective maritime officials carried out inspections of the boats, it was concluded that both boats were, indeed, seaworthy. Additionally, all the necessary safety equipment was found to be on board and in an operational state.

The operators of the boats are now subject to an investigation under Section 291 of the Navigation in Thai Waters Act. According to this statute, the Marine Office is authorised to suspend boat-related licences for up to two years in cases where the crew displays incompetence, inappropriate behaviour or fails to comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

Notwithstanding the clear evidence of the driver’s actions on the high seas, the report noted that the boat operators were being interviewed regarding the incident. However, at present, no definitive action has been confirmed against them.

The report by PR Phuket did not disclose the names of any tour companies linked to the two speedboats providing tourist transportation and tours.

Phuket NewsThailand 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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