Navy looks to repurpose two 70-year-old ships, not sure how

Navy looks to repurpose two 70-year-old ships, not sure how

Decommissioned frigates HTMS 'Phutthayotfa Chulalok' (FFG-461) and HTMS 'Phutthaloetla Naphalai' (FFG-462) are being used as floating museums and for excursions off the Sattahip coast in Chon Buri. Apichit Jinakul
Decommissioned frigates HTMS 'Phutthayotfa Chulalok' (FFG-461) and HTMS 'Phutthaloetla Naphalai' (FFG-462) are being used as floating museums and for excursions off the Sattahip coast in Chon Buri. Apichit Jinakul

The navy is figuring out what to do with two old frigates after turning them into floating museums proved too costly, according to a navy source.

The 70-year-old ships have been used as floating museums off the coast of Sattahip in Chon Buri since Sept 8 last year.

The source said the floating museums were expensive to maintain with the navy facing hefty maintenance bills totalling more than 100,000 baht a month.

There have also been few visitors.

The ships were also dispatched on a tour around Sattahip's coast, for which visitors were charged 200 baht each.

However, the tour has not been popular, for perhaps a number of reasons but most notably because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has driven down the revenue needed to maintain the ships substantially.

Adm Suttinan Samanruk, commander of the Royal Thai Fleet, has made plans to discuss with the US military attache what else could be done with the ships or how they could be repurposed.

The two ships were built in the United States and are still the property of the US.

So far, the following options have been floated: the navy could sink the ships and create artificial reefs out of them, break the vessels up for their steel, or put them on display on land.

The two ships -- HTMS Phutthayotfa Chulalok (FFG-461) and HTMS Phutthaloetla Naphalai (FFG-462 ) -- first entered service with the United States Navy and were named USS Truett and USS Ouellet respectively.

HTMS Phutthayotfa Chulalok was commissioned into the Royal Thai Navy in July 1994 and HTMS Phutthaloetla Naphalai in November 1996.

Both ships were decommissioned on Sept 28, 2017.

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