Thai Navy Searching for 31 Missing Sailors After Warship Sinks in Heavy Seas

Thai Navy Searching for 31 Missing Sailors After Warship Sinks in Heavy Seas

A dramatic search operation is ongoing to find thirty-one sailors missing from the Royal Thai Navy warship 'Sukhothai,' after it sank Monday in the Gulf of Thailand.

A translated statement from the Thai Navy posted on Instagram read that the Sukhothai's hull "tilted from strong wind waves," 20 miles from shore.

The ship also suffered an electrical outage due to seawater entering it from an exhaust pipe, which left the crew unable to pump out water from the 252-foot vessel — which was built in the United States and commissioned into the Thai Navy in 1987.

Those at the scene attempted to transfer pumps from other naval vessels for three hours but sadly failed, per the statement.

"At 00.12 am of Monday, the Sukhothai tiled even further and later sank," the translated statement added.

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A total of 106 sailors were on board the ship at the time. Seventy-five crew in total have since been found — 11 of whom have been hospitalized — and a search operation is ongoing to find the remaining 31 mariners, per the Thai Navy.

This handout photo taken on December 18, 2022 and released on December 19 by the Royal Thai Navy shows the HTMS Sukhothai warship on its side before sinking in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Bang Saphan district in Prachuab Kiri Khan province. - At least 31 Royal Thai navy personnel were missing at sea after a vessel floundered in the Gulf of Thailand, a spokesperson said December 19.


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"Once you lose power, you are in the dark and doing everything with portable diesel pumps and buckets," retired U.S. Navy Captain Carl Schuster told CNN about the terrifying ordeal suffered by the Thai sailors. "For a small, (almost) 40-year-old ship in heavy seas, the odds are against success in that case."

Army personnel and rescue crew gather at a makeshift rescue operation site during the search for survivors of the capsizing of the Thai naval vessel HTMS Sukhothai about 37 kilometres (22 miles) off the southeastern coast on Sunday night, at Bang Saphan Pier in Prachuap Khiri Khan district, on December 19, 2022. - Thai military frigates and helicopters were on December 19 searching for 31 sailors after a naval vessel sank, with dozens of others having been hauled from choppy waters.


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Video from the scene showed crew on the ship as it sits tilted on stormy waters, with CCTV footage shared by The Guardian showing it rocking back and forth on its side.

Another video from the sinking features the crew sitting on a rescue raft, as others attempt to pull them to safety on a new ship.

According to a Facebook update from the Navy, "the deceased [had] not been found" as of Monday morning.

"The wind waves will continue to be strong until tomorrow, which will also be a barrier [in the search," the update read. "The search will focus on the direction of the waves with the direction of the shore. It will focus on island searches, including around the area where the boat sank"