Navy may take sub engines from China
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Navy may take sub engines from China

A graphic showing the specifications and pictures of the Chinese submarines. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
A graphic showing the specifications and pictures of the Chinese submarines. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) could accept Chinese-made engines for the S26T Yuan-class submarine it is in the process of buying, it was revealed on Tuesday.

Speaking to media, RTN spokesman Pokkrong Monthatphalin said that China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) has sent the specifications of an improved version of its CHD620 diesel engine to replace a German-made MTU396 diesel engine.

He said the RTN's chief-of-staff, Adm Thaloengsak Sirisawat, had stressed that any alternative must match the specifications of the agreed model and the RTN will carry out a thorough assessment which is expected to be finished by Sept 15. If the specs prove satisfactory, the RTN will ask CSOC to send it the engine for testing. If it passes, there will be no need to amend the contract, Vice Adm Pokkrong said.

Under the contract, CSOC is permitted to make changes to any parts of the submarine as long as replacements are of at least equal quality, he said.

"But if the substitute from CSOC cannot pass the test, the contract must be terminated, and the two sides will have to hold talks to discuss compensation or a refund.

"However, the RTN would prefer not to completely reset the process, if possible," Vice Adm Pokkrong said.

He added that CSOC will be using the new engines in its own submarines, and Thailand and Sri Lanka will be among the first foreign recipients of the model.

Asked whether the substitute breaches the contract, which stipulates that the engine must already be in active use by any nation, Vice Adm Pokkrong said that the RTN would have to sort this problem out.

The RTN had earlier set on Tuesday as the deadline for CSOC to honour its agreement to supply the S26T Yuan-class submarine with German-made MTU396 diesel engines.

During recent talks, the deadline was pushed back when Liu Song, a visiting vice president of CSOC, claimed the German manufacturer's decision not to supply an engine was final, according to Vice Adm Pokkrong.

CHD620 diesel engines were also offered, but the RTN declined as they are not in current use anywhere, he noted.

Thailand procured its first Yuan-class S26T submarine from China back in 2017 for 13.5 billion baht.

The next delivery, scheduled for September 2023, may be postponed until April 2024.

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