‘I can only wait and hope’: Mother of missing Thai sailor prays for his return after warship sinks

The HTMS Sukhothai corvette was carrying 105 navy officers from Chumphon to Prachuap Port in Bang Saphan, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, when fierce winds and waves caused seawater to enter the vessel and damage its electric system.

A power failure that ensued stopped the ship’s engine and made it unable to maintain balance in the rough sea. As more water rapidly entered the vessel, it started to tip and eventually sank at about 11.30pm on Sunday.

The 105 marines on board were forced to evacuate the ship. While most of them had life jackets, the navy’s preliminary report showed that 30 people did not, which meant dozens of officers had to rely on life rafts.

Six such rafts were on the HTMS Sukhothai warship and each of them could carry up to 15 people, according to the navy. Extra life rafts were also provided by other vessels and aircraft dispatched to the scene to assist with the evacuation.

But the turbulent weather made the operation highly difficult.

“The ship began to tip further because more water had entered. Eventually, it started to sink from the back,” navy chief Choengchai Chomchoengpaet explained in a press conference on Tuesday.

“There was a commotion then. Some of the crew manually released the life rafts to let those without life jackets get in, hoping they could be rescued by other vessels later.

“Some other officers who had been washed away by the waves as the ship was sinking tried to swim towards the HTMS Kraburi frigate nearby,” he added.