Officers from the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command together with representatives from the respective embassies welcomed eight ship crewmen on dry land this morning (Feb 4).
Present to welcome the crewmen at 9am were Vice Admiral Cherngchai Chomcherngpat Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command base in Phuket, along with Fachry Sulaiman, Consul of the Republic of Indonesia in Songkhla, and Aung Nai representing the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok.
Joining the welcoming committee were officers from Phuket Immigration and the Phuket Customs Office.
The eight crewmen disembarked the Mongolian-registered vessel ‘M.V. Express 6’ and were taken to the Metadee Resort and Villas in Karon to observe a 14-day quarantine, the Third Area Command reported.
Vice Admiral Cherngchai explained that the Navy base was alerted on Jan 8 that a foreign vessel had entered Thai territorial waters without permission.
On Jan 9, the ship docked at the Phuket Deep Sea Port at Ao Makham, on Phuket’s east coast.
“The ship was considered suspicious and may have had contraband on board, so I ordered officers to examine the ship,” V/Adm Cherngchai explained.
“Officers found that there were 18 people on the ship – one Thai captain, six Thai crewmen, seven Indonesians, four Chinese and one Myanmar national,” he said.
“Initially, they were to face the charge of entering the Kingdom without permission and faced possible customs offenses,” V/Adm Cherngchai said.
However, questioning the captain and crew revealed a different scenario, he noted.
“The captain told us that the Indonesian and Myanmar crewmen wanted to go back to their home countries because their employment contract had expired. They also felt unsafe, as they had been on the ship for a long time and the ship was planned to go to Somalia [after departing Phuket],” he said.
“Therefore, the captain asked us to contact their embassies to help them,” he added.
“On Jan 11, we contacted the Phuket office of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and Phuket Immigration to check their criminal history. They have never been involved in any human trafficking, so we contacted their embassies,” V/Adm Chernchai said.
“The two embassies contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help the crewmen as a special case and let them quarantine on the island. After the 14 days, they will later be sent back to their home countries,” he said.
“With the eight cremen now off the ship, the ship will now head to Guangzhou, China,” he added.