Thai navy searches for 31 sailors after vessel sinks

AFP , Monday 19 Dec 2022

Thai military frigates and helicopters were on Monday searching for 31 sailors after a naval vessel sank, with dozens of others having been hauled from choppy waters.

Thailand sinking
This handout photo taken on December 18, 2022 and released on December 19 by the Royal Thai Navy shows the HTMS Sukhotha warship on its side before sinking in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Bang Saphan district in Prachuab Kiri Khan province. AFP


The HTMS Sukhothai capsized late on Sunday night as it was patrolling the Gulf of Thailand, about 37 kilometres (22 miles) off the nation's southeastern coast.

Some sailors survived by jumping into a life raft at night, according to images shared by the Royal Thai Navy, which said 75 people had been rescued.

However, 31 sailors were still missing on Monday afternoon, according to navy spokesperson Admiral Pogkrong Montradpalin.

The search and rescue operation involved two Seahawk helicopters, two frigates and one amphibious ship, according to a navy statement.

A statement from the Royal Thai Air Force later Monday said they were also assisting in the operation, without giving details.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha said the cause of the incident was being investigated.

"I am following the news closely, about five people are seriously injured," he added in a statement.

The navy spokesperson said the vessel sank after its electronics system was damaged.

"The ship's operating systems stopped working, causing the ship to lose control," he said.

One image shared by the navy showed the vessel capsized, while a video showed a rescue boat alongside the ship in rough waters.

Other images shared on the navy's Twitter account showed men wrapped in blankets following their rescue.

Several areas in southern Thailand have been hit by storms and flooding in recent days.

The Thai metrological office said Monday that strong winds were causing stormy conditions in the Gulf of Thailand, warning seafarers to proceed with caution and small boats to stay ashore.

The HTMS Sukhothai was commissioned in 1987 and built in the United States by the now-defunct Tacoma Boatbuilding Company, according to the US Naval Institute.

In 2018, a boat carrying mostly Chinese tourists capsized off Phuket island on Thailand's west coast.

More than 40 people died in the accident, one of the worst boat disasters in the country's recent history.

Short link: