The ship, named after its governmental agency owner the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), left the Phuket Deep Sea Port at 1pm with a team of 30 experts from Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) on board.
The team will first install a new fully operational buoy to replace the one no longer working as ‘Station 23401’ in the multi-national ‘Bay of Bengal array’ located some 600 nautical miles west of Phuket.
The buoy was reported in September to have been inspected by the Indian Navy, and believed to have been scavenged for parts.
The team on board MV SEAFDEC is expected to install the new buoy on Nov 19, Suwat Pabpeung, Chief of the National Disaster Warning Centre (NDWC) Operations Division, told The Phuket News today.
The team will collect the scavenged buoy and bring it back to Phuket, Mr Suwat added.
The team will then re-install the other tsunami-warning buoy, designated ‘Station 23461’, at its proper location in the Andaman Sea, some 280km northwest of Phuket, Mr Suwat explained.
The buoy was confirmed in September to be adrift from its designated location, believed to have been struck from its anchoring lines by a passing ship.
A team of DDPM experts on board a Royal Thai Navy boat in late September recovered the buoy, which was still transmitting real-time data, and brought it back to Phuket for repairs.
“Both buoys will need six to 12 hours to start transmitting real-time data again,” Mr Suwat said.
The team is expected to return to Phuket on Nov 28, he added.
Present for departure from Phuket today were DDPM Deputy Director-General Chettha Mosikrat, along with DDPM Region 18 Chief Prapan Kanprasang and Phuket Vice Governor Wikom Jakthi.
“After they have completed their mission and returned to Phuket, all officers and crew members on the ship will be held for 14 days in quarantine in accordance with the Ministry of Public Health measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19,” Mr Chetta said.
“Please have confidence in the tsunami-monitoring and warning system… I have focused on improving the country’s tsunami analysis and warning system to be more efficient, especially so that the information on which the decision for issuing a warning is provided faster, so that people can receive correct information from government officials and we can prepare to evacuate people in a timely manner,” he added.
“The money spent on the tsunami-warning system is a worthwhile investment in order to reduce the loss of life and property of the people,” Mr Chetta said.
“Therefore, I would like to ask everyone – officials, organisations, volunteers and networks fishermen and other people – to unite and help look after and maintain the tsunami-warning system and the warning towers in their areas so that they can be used continuously in order to provide us with effective early warning,” he said.