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Thai Navy Attributes HTMS Sukhothai Sinking to Sudden Sea Change

The Thai Navy attributes the tragic sinking of HTMS Sukhothai to a sudden and severe change in weather and sea conditions, more than a year after the incident occurred. The Rattanakosin-class corvette met its fate on the night of December 18, 2022, off Prachuap Khiri Khan province, resulting in the loss of 24 officers and men, with five still missing.

According to Admiral Adoong, the vessel was ill-equipped to handle the extreme conditions it encountered, with waves reaching a height of 6 meters, well beyond its 4-meter maximum capacity. This rendered navigation impossible and led to the vessel’s eventual sinking. Additionally, six other vessels, including a cargo freighter, met a similar fate in the Gulf of Thailand on the same night and early morning.

The adverse weather conditions, compounded by darkness and poor visibility, hindered rescue efforts, making it challenging for the crew to carry out their duties and for rescuers to locate and assist them. The heavy seas likely dispersed the crew over a wide area, further diminishing their chances of survival.

Rear Admiral Apirom Ngernbumroong revealed that subsequent diving operations conducted by the Thai Navy, including one in collaboration with the US Navy, failed to locate the missing crew members. Instead, they uncovered evidence of water leakage into the vessel through the hull, leading to its listing. Furthermore, a protective steel plate intended to shield the vessel from waves was found severely damaged, exacerbating the situation.

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