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Rescuers hopeful for missing sailors as search enters second day

Rescuers hopeful for missing sailors as search enters second day

PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN: Rescuers in helicopters scoured the Gulf of Thailand today (Dec 20) for dozens of sailors who went missing when their naval vessel sank, hoping life jackets had helped them survive two nights in the choppy waters.


Tuesday 20 December 2022, 11:29AM

The HTMS Kraburi sails out from Prachuap Khiri Khan today (Dec 19) to resume the search for survivors after the sinking of Thai naval vessel HTMS Sukhothai. Photo: AFP

The HTMS Kraburi sails out from Prachuap Khiri Khan today (Dec 19) to resume the search for survivors after the sinking of Thai naval vessel HTMS Sukhothai. Photo: AFP

Seventy-six sailors from the HTMS Sukhothai were hauled from the sea after the vessel went down late Sunday in the Gulf of Thailand, roughly 37 kilometres off the southeastern coast.

Thai warship the HTMS Kraburi left port to resume the search early today, scanning the turbulent waters for 31 missing sailors alongside other naval vessels and two Seahawk helicopters.

“I am hopeful we will find some survivors, because they have life vests,” said naval officer Narong Khumburi.

“But I imagine they must be exhausted.”

Efforts to find the missing crew were focused on aerial searches, with the Royal Thai airforce assisting the operation.

HTMS Kraburi commander Kraiwit Kornraweeprapapitch said slightly improved weather would help the search.

“The format of searching is still the same, which is a joint operation with helicopters,” he said.

His ship and 176-strong crew will join the HTMS Angthong, HTMS Naresuan and HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej in scanning an area roughly 30 miles by 30 miles stretching from Prachuab to upper Chumporn.

“Now, we are just surveilling the situation using the helicopter,” naval diver Prawit Gongnak told AFP at the pier in Prachuap Khiri Khan town.

Prawit, who was monitoring the bright if blustery weather conditions, said he was among 29 divers on standby.

“We haven’t been commanded to dive yet,” he added.

CBRE Phuket

Sahachart Limcharoenphakdee, a member of the National Institute for Emergency Medicine, said they were working with naval personnel to help those plucked from the waters.

“I am hopeful, and have trust for the navy rescue team who are skilful,” he said.

Late last night, naval commander Pichai Lorchusakul told reporters at the pier that they remained focused on finding survivors.

“Our main priority is searching (for) and rescuing as many as we can,” he said.

Pichai added that this was the “first time” that the Thai navy had lost a ship this way.

Electrical fault

The vessel - a corvette, the smallest type of military warship - is believed to have run into trouble after its electronics system was damaged, according to the navy.

“The ship’s operating systems stopped working, causing the ship to lose control,” a spokesperson said.

Parts of southern Thailand have been hit by storms and flooding in recent days.

A warning from the Thai meteorological office remained in place today, with strong winds causing rough conditions in the Gulf of Thailand, cautioning seafarers to proceed with caution and small boats to stay ashore.

The HTMS Sukhothai was commissioned in 1987 and built in the United States by the now-defunct Tacoma Boatbuilding Company, according to the US Naval Institute.

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DeKaaskopp | 22 December 2022 - 15:31:04

Yes Kurt, there are. Surprised you don't know as you usually know everything. My advise for you : Wikipedia ! 

Kurt | 22 December 2022 - 10:08:42

Pooliekev, do you know or there are more american built warships in Thai navy?
We know that the helicopter carrier is Spanish built. It is in use as thai visitor center. Foreigners now allowed to board. Funny. Once in a while it sails a few miles only, with empty deck.

Taswegian | 22 December 2022 - 09:02:54

@Prab: Brilliant! I wish I had thought of that one!

Kurt | 22 December 2022 - 02:04:47

Cruising vessels around, helicopters circling. Why were divers not yet ordered to dive that 40 metres depth, and hammer/signal on the hull to find out or there were/are still crewmembers on board in airpockets? Unbelieveble. One Thai diver said: 'we are not ordered yet'. ( 30 - 40 metres is a recreational diver depth)

Pooliekev | 21 December 2022 - 15:11:31

Ah Amerikan built. Must have been a timebomb waiting to go off. 

Kurt | 21 December 2022 - 12:20:47

Article BP today: The corvette had 70 crewmembers, they all had a life jacket, there were 70 of them on board. There came a detachment of 30 marines on board as passenger. For them was there NO life jacket. So, 36 persons got in the water without a life jacket! Were the Captain and his nr 1 sub commander safed? Captain should leave the ship as last person. Interesting comments with that BP article

Kurt | 21 December 2022 - 08:23:25

Seen the time that passed since the corvette went down in choppy seas, there is not much hope to find many more floating crewmembers alive in the water when they only wear a life vest.

Prab | 20 December 2022 - 23:03:00

finally now they have their Sub....

christysweet | 20 December 2022 - 13:51:11

Definitely going to be some promotions and transfers to cushy assignments over this HUGE EMBARASSMENT.  And we'll never know  who left the  hatch unsecured. 


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