Navy submarines resurface

23 01 2011

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Royal Thai Navy wants to buy two second-hand submarines at a cost of 6-7 billion baht.” This is a new take on a story that keeps coming back. For PPT’s first mention of it, see here (also see this), but the desire for underwater goes deeper than this.

The PAD preferred option on a used sub

It is great news (perhaps) to know that the “navy has set up a committee to conduct a feasibility study.” The odd thing, without such a study the greedy sailors seem to want Cabinet to approve the funds “in principle.” Picking up second hand submarines is not as simple as buying a Mercedes (preferred land transport of navy commanders in Thailand), unless the official pirates want one of these. And we trust these submariners-to-be have read this important post.

The navy brass wants subs, this time, because they want “Thai sailors have little knowledge of submarine technology, which is constantly upgraded.” Have the captains been spending too much time with bottles of rum? They say: “We are still backwards in terms of submarine technology.” That sounds odd to us: they don’t have any subs but they need to be familiar with them, so buy some. Circular logic (or lack thereof)? However, the rum gurglers are thinking of the country because they only want used subs at 6-7 billion baht because the current government has been dishing out money trying to win an election sometime in the future repairing the economy.

To be serious, however, this is a story that has been about for a considerable time, and has a royal connection and a link to Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer. And, we recognize that buying used submarines can be a way of training crews for a serious purchase (but is Thailand able to consider a serious purchase?).

Thai navy purchases - like an aircraft carrier - sometimes are as useful as this submarine

Siam Voices has a useful take on the story, pointing out that the navy is keen to get German Type 206 diesel-electric submarines that were designed for use in relatively shallow waters (important for the Gulf of Thailand). Submarines have  topped the navy’s wish list for some time.

Some would suggest that the rise of China’s blue water navy is causing a mini-arms race amongst Southeast Asian countries. Malaysia has French submarines and the Singaporeans have several Swedish submarines. Burma seems interested in a submarine, but hasn’t progressed a deal with North Korea, the Philippines doesn’t have submarines, and Cambodia’s navy only uses patrol boats. The Indian navy has some 15 Russian-designed and German-designed submarines. Vietnam has 6 Russian-built submarines and Indonesia has similar vessels and German-built submarines also. It is claimed that “Thailand had four Japanese-made submarines in the past, but they were never replaced after decommissioning because newer models were too expensive.”

While there may be an arms race going on, there is also a plan to invest more in the Thai armed forces. There’s no doubt that a major motivation in this – said to be costing up to 400 billion baht – is a desire to defeat domestic political opposition, including southern insurgents and (currently) red shirts (as pointed out in the Post story). Hence, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is a supporter of his backers.

Perhaps the stumbling block for the navy’s subs is not just cost but also the king’s stated opposition several years ago. As usual, until he withdraws his objections, then the deal is likely to stagnate, along with the under-the-table commissions that come with all these arms deals.


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28 03 2011
Give then subs! | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] total cost is about what PPT reported some time ago,although the total number of vessels is up from two to […]

1 01 2012
Happy new year from PPT « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] ในโอกาสพ้นจาก, Navy submarines resurface, More royal brilliance?, Wikileaks, the queen and the 2006 coup, Wikileaks, politics and the Crown […]

7 11 2015
The military junta and its deadly toys | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] do this for commissions that make them wealthy. Think submarines, GT200 magic wands, Russian planes for the monarchy (or maybe not), multiple suppliers of jet […]

7 11 2015
The military junta and its deadly toys | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] do this for commissions that make them wealthy. Think submarines, GT200 magic wands, Russian planes for the monarchy (or maybe not), multiple suppliers of jet […]

15 06 2017
Bored witless | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the junta is in power, its is almost genetically programmed to buy military toys from Chinese submarines to Chinese armored personal carriers (with the white sidewalls option, they should look stunning […]

15 06 2017
Bored witless | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] the junta is in power, its is almost genetically programmed to buy military toys from Chinese submarines to Chinese armored personal carriers (with the white sidewalls option, they should look stunning […]




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