22 April 2011

Navy Still Wants 6 German Submarines

22 April 2011

Type 206A submarine from Germany (photo : Militaryphotos)

The navy still wants to buy six used Type U206A submarines from Germany, because they are most suitable for its needs, navy chief Admiral Kamthorn Poomhiran said on Friday.

Adm Kamthorn said the Type U206A submarine is most suitable for the Thai navy because it is small and agile, with a displacement of only 450 tonnes.

Moreover, the six submarines would cost the navy only 7.7 billion baht.

"I can guarantee that they can be in commission for more than 10 years," he said.

Adm Kamthorn said this type of submarine is far better than the Type U209 submarines which the navy earlier hoped to buy from South Korea.

Korea bought the submarines, which are much bigger at more than 1,000 tonnes displacement each, from Germany and had them refurbished.

Two Type U209 submarines would cost the navy 13 billion baht, which is far more expensive than the Type U206A from Germany, he said.

"The 7.7 billion baht to buy six Type U206A submarines from Germany is worthwhile, to protect the country's yearly marine interests of more than 900 billion baht," Adm Kamthorn said.

The navy chief said a proposal to buy six submarines from Germany would be forwarded to the Defence Council meeting chaired by Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon next week for approval.

If approved, the proposal would be tabled for cabinet consideration.

He said the navy plans to buy the submarines with its own four-year tied-over budget.

Vice Admiral Taweewut Pongpipat, assistant navy chief-of-staff for tactical operations, said the navy plans to use two submarines in the Gulf of Thailand and two in the Andaman Sea, while two others would be used for rotation.

He said the navy has already selected the first batch of 30 naval personnel for training in Germany for one year before the submarines were handed over.

The submarines the Thai navy plans to buy are still in operation, and not decommissioned yet.

"If we don't buy them, Chile and Colombia would," Vice Adm Taweewut said.

Malaysia now has two submarines in commission and Singapore has four, a navy official said.

Vietnam already has four submarines and is reported to be negotiating to buy six more at a cost of US$4 billion from Russia, while Burma has already trained its sailors for submarine operations, the official said.

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