The divers and rescuers did not enter the wreckage, about 40 metres below the surface, as it was considered unsafe to do so due to strong tides and the state of the ship, he said.
Navy spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatpalin said yesterday that three more bodies had been found, meaning 11 others are still missing, reports the Bangkok Post.
The search operation will continue via air, land and sea in a target area divided into 20 sectors, he said.
Foot patrols are being conducted along the surrounding coastal areas where more bodies or survivors are likely to be found, he said.
The corvette HMTS Sukhothai sank on Dec 18 with 105 people on board as it was patrolling the rough seas off Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Bang Saphan district.
Of the 105 crew members, 76 were rescued while 18 others have been found dead since, said Adm Pokkrongl, adding that 11 of the crew remain missing.
Of the 18 victims, seven have been formally identified while others are being identified via markings on their bodies.
Two bodies were found late on Saturday night, south of Bang Saphan. A total of eight bodies were discovered and retrieved on Saturday.
At a coordination centre set up by the navy for relatives of the missing crew, the reality of the situation began to sink in for one mother.
She has been coming to the centre every day over the past seven days in the hope of hearing news about her son.
“Now I have to accept [that he was onboard the sunken ship],” she said. “Alive or dead, I still wish to be reunited with him.”
Officials from the local administrative organisation in tambon Koh Tao and neighbouring Surat Thani have begun foot patrols along bays and beaches along the southern side of the island to aid the search.
Narongrit Thongnuan, kamnan of tambon Koh Tao, said waves would carry objects from the seas to the southern part of the island at this time of year.
Meanwhile, national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas said one of the seven recently identified bodies by the Institute of Forensic Medicine was that of Seaman Woraphong Bunlakhon.
He said a police forensic team had been instructed to set up an operations centre in Bang Saphan to support the operation.
In other news, the Pollution Control Department said it expects less than 1,000 litres of oil leaked from the sunken ship will wash ashore in Chumphon starting today.
It said the ship had up to 20,000 litres of oil in its tank when it sunk.
Elsewhere, the skipper of HTMS Sukhothai has sent a message to the sailors still missing as the search and rescue operation put an emphasis on areas close to shores.
“Please come back. All of us are waiting for you,” said Capt Pichitchai Thuennadee in a video clip shared among Royal Thai Navy circles before it was posted on the navy Facebook account yesterday. His voice was sombre, but the tone showed his determination to see them again.
The clip also showed other navy soldiers searching for missing sailors under the operation “to bring our brothers back home”.
“I hope that there is a miracle like I have seen in movies,” one crew officer said. “I hope they are stranded on islands somewhere and are trying to find their way home,” the soldier added.