PM approves 'midget' subs for navy
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has approved a 193-million baht project to design a so-called "midget" submarine -- the first step in the planned construction of a prototype for the Royal Thai Navy.
The design will take an estimated four years, with construction of the prototype expected to take another two years at an expected cost of another 1 billion baht.
Capt Sattaya Chandraprabha from the Royal Thai Navy Academy announced the decision Tuesday.
The design will take four years and construction of the first mini-submarine another two, to be followed by seaworthiness checks and training for one year, Capt Sattaya said.
The cost of the mini-submarine will be known after four years.
Capt Sattaya, head of the mini-submarine research project, said the navy began the project last October.
Some 25 navy officers, all graduates in naval architecture and other fields from schools in Europe, were sent for training in England.
Gen Prayut floated the idea to build the craft, with 193 million baht allocated for research, Capt Sattaya said.
The first mini-submarine in the unofficially named "Chalawan Class" would have a surface displacement of 150-300 tonnes, a crew of 10 and a 300-nautical-mile range, he said.
In April last year, the cabinet endorsed the navy's purchase of a Yuan Class S26T submarine from China for 13.5 billion baht, part of a plan to buy three for 36 billion baht.
Tesla boss Elon Musk brought a mini-submarine made of rocket parts and named "Wild Boar" to Thailand on July 10 to potentially help with the rescue of 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai, but it was not used.