Thai Navy Warship Capsizes, Leaving 31 Sailors Missing

(Screenshot/Royal Thai Navy Twitter account, @prroyalthainavy)

Brent Foster Contributor
Font Size:

A Royal Thai Navy warship capsized in the Gulf of Thailand and left 31 sailors missing Sunday evening, according to The Associated Press (AP).

The HTMS Sukhothai, a corvette, lost electrical power as seawater blew into the warship amid strong winds, The AP reported. The loss of electrical power reduced the controllability of the vessel amid strong waves.

Strong winds stalled a navy assistance effort involving ships and helicopters along with mobile pumping machines, according to The AP. Strong waves buffeted the warship, which eventually capsized and sank.

The HTMS Kraburi eventually managed to reach the beleaguered vessel and rescue most of the crew, found in the water in life rafts or floating with life jackets, according to the BBC. Authorities confirmed the successful rescue of 75 sailors on Monday.

A Thai navy spokesman told the BBC that a search and rescue effort will remain ongoing with the assistance of the Royal Thai Air Force.  “I am following the news closely – about five people are seriously injured,” said Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

“This has almost never happened in our force’s history, especially to a ship that is still in active use,” Admiral Pogkrong Monthardpalin told the BBC as the navy announced an investigation into the sinking. (RELATED: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha Suspended As Court Reviews Term Limits)

The warship sank as it was on a standard patrol about 20 miles offshore from the Bangsaphan district in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province, the AP reported. The Thailand Meteorological Department issued a weather advisory for the area shortly before the sinking that included a suggestion that ships “proceed with caution.”

Built at an American shipyard and commissioned in 1987, the Sukhothai held a maximum displacement of 959 tons and reached a length of 252 feet, according to the AP. As a midsize corvette, the warship was designed to patrol relatively close offshore waters.

Thailand in 2022 experienced the temporary suspension of the prime minister along with a deadly daycare attack and a nightclub fire as the country remains a prominent stop for suppliers funneling methamphetamine out of Myanmar via Laos.