The opening ceremony of the training exercise, which runs from April 20-25, was led by Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command Vice Admiral Somnuk Preampramot.
Speaking to The Phuket News’ Thai-language sister paper Khao Phuket, V/Adm Somnuk said, “There are many kinds of threats to maritime security that the navy has to deal with, so it is essential that the Maritime Security Agency and the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command’s Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre coordinates closely with each other.
“A lot of this work cannot be done by just one unit alone,” he said.
“All involved agencies must have a clear understanding of the procedures they should follow when dealing with maritime security threats, and the objective of this training exercise is to provide all relevant officials with comprehensive details on how those procedures should be carried out.
“Once provided with these details, should a real situation be encountered, officials will be able to work in the same way and work smoothly in achieving their goals,” V/Adm Somnuk explained.
“Over the course of the next five days we will conduct training exercises dealing with a number of maritime security threats including drug transportation, illegal labour and also dealing with boats that could contain radioactive materials,” he added
Next Tuesday (Apr 24), there will be an exercise carried out at 4pm to deal with Middle Eastern nationals who are attempting to smuggle chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents into Thailand.
“The exercise will see the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command’s Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre be notified that Middle East nationals are planning to smuggle CBRN into Thailand via a cruise liner named “Dolphin”.
“The boat will depart from Singapore on Monday (Apr 23) with 1,250 passengers on board and will be due to arrive at the Phuket Deep Sea Port at around 10am on April 25.
“However, on April 24 the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command’s Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre will send officials out to intercept and inspect the vessel before it will be allowed to moor at the Phuket Deep Sea Port,” V/Adm Somnuk said.
“Participants in this training exercise will include three vessels from the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, six vessels from the 8th Water Police Division, Phuket Criminal Investigation Department, Customs Department, Resources Management Division of the Phuket Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), Krabi Marine Fisheries Prevention and Suppression Centre, three helicopters from Naval Air Section of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, one specialist team from the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, and one operational team from Naval Science Department.”
V/Adm Somnuk said that although all relevant teams have been working well up until now, additional training is always required to make sure officials are all moving in the same direction and have the same understanding.
“So far all units have been doing well for this, especially when it comes to IUU fishing,” V/Adm Somnuk said.
“We are paying much attention to IUU fishing right now, but the situation still appears to be OK.
“The Port In-Port Out Control Centre (PIPO) is in charge of checking on boats coming in to Phuket while our vessels go out to sea to make sure all the boats’ information matches the records we have (from PIPO info).
“If all information matches and all documents are in order then it’s fine. If not we will use law enforcement against those found breaking the law,” he explained.
“In future we will not only focus on inspecting fishing boats but also private yachts as at the moment we are not really taking control of checking yachts,” he said.
When asked what they would do if they came across Rohingya migrants attempting to flee Myanmar he said, “As you know, Thailand is not the chosen destination for Rohingya, Thailand is just a place they have to pass on their journey to their chosen destination.
“Should we come across any Rohingya all we can do is support them in making it to their destination. The Rohingya are human beings and they also need taking care of,” he added.
Text by Pakin Intajak.