Divers go on salvage mission

Divers go on salvage mission

The sunken HTMS Sukhothai corvette. (Screenshot)
The sunken HTMS Sukhothai corvette. (Screenshot)

PRACHUAP KhIRI KHAN: A team of 49 divers from the Thai and United States navies on Thursday began a 19-day mission to salvage HTMS Sukhothai as part of the Cobra Gold joint military exercise.

Navy commander-in-chief Adm Adoong Pan-iam on Thursday went on board the US Navy's Ocean Valor, an offshore supply ship which serves as the mission base in the province, to inspect the operation and boost morale.

Adm Adoong said he appreciated the team's efforts to surmount all challenges and make the mission possible.

He said the Ocean Valor sailed from Hawaii with the equipment delivered by aircraft. The equipment was then loaded onto the ship in Singapore.

"We are touched and feel grateful for the assistance from the United States," he said.

The operation is deploying 35 Thai Navy divers and 14 US Navy divers. They are divided into groups of three: two working underwater and the other staying at the base.

Each group will spend at least one hour working on the operation, with ten minutes diving down from the surface, 40-45 minutes at the wreck site and ten minutes to return.

After that, the divers will be treated in a hyperbaric chamber for an hour.

Adm Adoong said the first mission will focus on retrieving the ship's nameplate, followed by recovering the ship and the members of the corvette.

The demolition of hazardous ammo and weapon disarmament will follow.

The salvage mission is set to wrap up on March 19.

The navy will decide which items from the ship to keep for educational purposes during this phase, Adm Adoong added.

HTMS Sukhothai sank in the Gulf of Thailand on Dec 19, 2022. Of the 105 people on board, 76 were rescued, 24 were found dead, and five remain missing.

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