Thailand backs naval buildup with three Chinese submarines

By Toan Dao   July 2, 2016 | 08:06 pm GMT+7

After Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, Thailand will be the next country in Southeast Asia to possess submarines, with the first three to be purchased from China next year.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the three submarines will be worth around $1 billion, according to a Reuters report on July 1.

Thailand has never had submarines and has tried, since the 1990s, to sign deals with several countries, including South Korea and Germany. The Southeast Asian nation put the deal with China on hold a year ago to review the cost and capabilities of the vessels.

The kingdom’s maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest.

In response to a comment that shallow Thai waters are unsuitable for submarines, Prawit said submarines will help Thailand safeguard its rich marine resources, according to a report from Vietnam News Agency on Friday. 

In spite of its limited sea areas, Thailand is the first and currently the only country in the region that possesses one of the ultimate symbols of military strength: an aircraft carrier.

Crew members salute from Thailands first aircraft carrier the HTMS Chakri Naruebet during an official ceremony to commission the Spanish-built ship at Sattahip Naval Base in Chon Buri, 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Bangkok, Sunday, Aug. 10, 1997. The 182.6-meter-long vessel is capable of carrying nine Sea Harrier AV-8S jets and six SH-70B helicopters. Photo by AP/Pornchai

Crew members salute from Thailand's first aircraft carrier the HTMS Chakri Naruebet during an official ceremony to commission the Spanish-built ship at Sattahip Naval Base in Chon Buri, 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Bangkok, Sunday, Aug. 10, 1997. Photo by AP/Pornchai

Its carrier, the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, was meant to be a point of pride for Thailand and symbolize the developing country's power. The 182.6-meter-long vessel is capable of carrying nine Sea Harrier AV-8S jets and six SH-70B helicopters.

Vietnam has five submarines while Singapore owns six and Indonesia and Malaysia each have two submarines, according to the Global Firepower website, which provides data about the militaries in the world.

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