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Thai Navy needs 200 million baht to salvage sunken HTMS Sukhothai

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The Royal Thai Navy plans to ask the Defence Ministry for 200 million baht to raise the sunken HTMS Sukhothai. The vessel is currently on the seabed in the Gulf of Thailand after sinking in rough seas on December 18 last. Divers using a remote submersible have located it about 50 metres underwater, according to a Nation Thailand report.

Navy spokesman Admiral Pokkrong Monthatphalin says that if the budget is approved, the Navy will appoint a contractor to carry out the salvage operation. The plan is to bring the vessel back to shore as intactly as possible.

“Further damage to the ship during the salvage operation could undermine the investigation into the cause of sinking. We believe the estimated cost of 200 million baht is suitable for this operation, which requires a high level of expertise.”

Meanwhile, Admiral Chonlathit Nawanukhro, chief-of-staff at the Royal Thai Navy, is leading an investigation into the sinking of the ship. To date, hundreds of Navy personnel have been questioned, including the crew who survived and their rescuers. It’s understood the vessel began to take on water during stormy weather conditions, which subsequently cut power to the engines.

The ship was about 32 kilometres (20 nautical miles) off the coast of the Bang Saphan district in Prachuap Khiri Khan when it sank. It had a total of 105 crew on board, of whom 76 were rescued. The bodies of 24 others were later recovered and 5 remain unaccounted for.

Yesterday, the Defence Ministry issued a statement to say the five missing crew are now presumed dead. They were named as Jirawat Jaroensilp, Sophon Wongsanit, Abdul-aziz Ma’ae, Chaichana Changwad and Thaweesak Saesiew.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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