The liquid petroleum carrier Kantika was luckily not laden when the alarm was raised at around 8:30 by crew member Panurat Rakchon, who signalled to a nearby Marine Department vessel that he had a fire on board.
The fire on the 80-metre-long Thai-registered ship, which is owned by Ayudhya Public Co, apparently started in the communications room of the tanker, possibly because of damaged wiring.
Mr Panuwat told Siang Tai, “I was working in the aft engine room. I smelled smoke and saw it was coming from around the communications room.
“I tried to put it out but there was too much smoke, so I ran out to get help.”
With help from the Marine Department and a helicopter from the Royal Thai Navy, Third Division, the fire was extinguished by 11 am.
Just 1,200 metres away from the burning tanker was the US aircraft carrier USS John B Stennis, which dropped anchor in Phuket today for a five-day stay, accompanied by the missile cruiser Mobile Bay.
Sailors aboard the Stennis, though keeping an eye on the tanker, said they did not believe there was any cause for concern.