Thai, UK naval drill 'no threat to China'
The navy yesterday clarified the joint intent of a recent maritime military exercise between the United Kingdom's HMS Richmond and HTMS Kraburi, saying it was a "passing exercise" and not militaristic in nature.
The clarification was deemed a response to observations made on social media that the drill in the Andaman Sea last month was part of efforts to slow China's growing regional influence.
Navy spokesman Chettha Jaipiam said the drill on July 24 was what is commonly referred to as a passing exercise, which is performed as an appropriate naval recognition of a friendly vessel -- HMS Richmond -- passing through territorial waters if there was no plan to make a port visit during the journey. It was not pre-planned, he said.
According to the spokesman, the Third Navy assigned HTMS Kraburi and a transport helicopter to undertake the drill which covered four training topics including, international maritime flag signalling, and took place for an hour, from 2pm to 3pm, south of the Similan islands, about 64km from Tap Lamu.
Adm Chettha said the navy has conducted passing exercises with naval vessels from several countries including India, Japan and Russia, as well as China, that have entered Thai waters. In October 2019, the navy also carried out the exercise with a number of Russian ships which made an official visit and stopped in Chon Buri's Sattahip district.