Thai warship HTMS Sukhothai sinks in bad weather, leaves 33 crew missing

Bangkok, Thailand

A Royal Thai Navy warship sank in bad weather early Monday, leaving 33 of its crew of 106 sailors missing in stormy seas in the Gulf of Thailand, Thai authorities said.

Three rescued sailors were in critical condition and a search operation was underway for the missing crew, authorities said.

Strong winds capsized the 252-foot (76.8-meter) long corvette HTMS Sukhothai, allowing seawater to enter an exhaust pipe and subsequently shutting down the ship’s electrical system, a statement from the Thai Navy.

The power outage caused the ship’s main power systems to fail, leaving the crew unable to maneuver or pump out seawater that had entered their hull, he said.

Over the course of more than three hours, efforts to transfer bombs to the Sukhothai from other naval vessels responding to the incident failed, the statement said.

“At 00.12am on Monday, the Sukhothai was further tiled and later sank,” he said.

Bad weather in the Gulf of Thailand, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Bang Saphan district, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, continued into Monday morning, hampering search efforts for the missing crew, authorities said.

The 960-ton Sukhothai was built in the United States and commissioned into the Thai Navy in 1987.

Carl Schuster, a retired US Navy captain, said the Thai crew faced a difficult situation on such an old ship.

“Once you lose power, you’re in the dark and doing everything with portable diesel pumps and buckets,” he said.

“For a (almost) 40-year-old small ship in heavy seas, the odds are against success in this case.”

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