February 7, 2023

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HTMS Sukhothai: Thai warship that sank, killing 6 people, had insufficient lifejackets, admiral says

Bangkok, Thailand Eureka News Now —

Thai Navy officials said Tuesday there were not enough life jackets for everyone aboard a warship that sank in severe weather in the Gulf of Thailand early Monday, killing at least six people.

23 people are missing after the sinking of the corvette HTMS Sukhothai while 76 people have been rescued, Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief Adm. Cherngchai Chomcherngpat at a press conference.

The ship was carrying 105 people at the time of the sinking, 30 more than usual, and there weren’t enough life jackets for everyone, Cherngchai said.

The extra officers were on board because the ship was attending a salute to the founder of the Thai Navy, the admiral said, adding: “More life jackets usually have to be added for extra officers.”

The crew is “fully aware of the problem of not having enough life jackets for 30 additional officers. They tried to use other tools that could save the lives of officers who didn’t have life jackets,” the admiral said.

Some of those without life jackets attempted to escape in inflatable boats, some stored aboard the corvette and some dropped by rescue helicopters and other ships.

Of the 30 people without life jackets, 18 were rescued and the rest are still missing, the admiral said.

“With or without a life jacket does not affect the chances of survival,” he added.

He said the ship sank after seawater entered and disabled its power systems.

The waves at that time were between 3 and 4 meters (10 ft to 13 ft) high and the water temperature was about 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit).

Water entered the front part of the 76.8-meter warship around 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Cherngchai said.

The flooding lasted for more than three hours, eventually crippling the ship’s engine and electrical systems and frustrating efforts to pump it out.

Rescue teams in helicopters attempted to lower water pumps onto the ship, but the effort was thwarted when it began to tilt severely.

The admiral dismissed a suggestion that the nearly 40-year-old ship might not have been in the right shape to tackle the high seas, saying it had been upgraded several times in recent years.