07 Mei 2011

Pride of the Seas

07 Mei 2011

HTMSChakri Naruebet is docked at Juk Samet naval base in Sattahip district of Chon Buri. The aircraft carrier has been deployed in disaster relief operations and to protect maritime resources. (photo : Thiti Wannamontha-Bangkok Post)

Navy's flagship is first port of call in emergencies

Serving the country for 14 years, aircraft carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet has been a protector of marine resources and linchpin of disaster relief operations.

The government approved the building of the navy's 7.1 billion baht flagship in 1992 after Typhoon Gay devastated Chumphon province and other southern provinces in 1989.

Since then, the aircraft carrier has been used in several disaster relief operations under the codename 911.

It is not only the Royal Thai Navy's largest warship, HTMS Chakri Naruebet is also Southeast Asia's largest helicopter carrier with a full-load displacement of 11,544 tonnes and can sail in wave heights of 13.8 metres.

The carrier is 30.5 metres wide and 182.6 metres long, and as high as a 12-storey building. Its dock is about 4,000 square metres.

Constructed at Bazan shipyard in Spain, the ship was commissioned into the navy on March 20, 1997.

His Majesty the King named it Chakri Naruebet, meaning "The Honour of the Chakri Dynasty".

Her Majesty the Queen presided over the launch of the carrier on Jan 20, 1996, at the Bazan dockyard.

The carrier has brought pride to the navy. About 30,000-40,000 Thais visit the ship every month at Juk Samet naval base in Sattahip district of Chon Buri.

One of six Seahawk helicopters on the carrier prepares for take-off. (photo : Bangkok Post)

"HTMS Chakri Naruebet is the Thai people's ship as it was bought with taxpayer money. Thais are allowed to visit the ship free of charge," said Suvin Jangyodsuk, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier.

"The navy is responsible for taking care of the people's property and is ready to protect our territorial waters and marine resources. We are also ready for disaster relief operations." Captain Suvin is the fifth commander of the ship since it was launched.

During the 1997 economic crisis, the ship did not engage in training exercises due to naval budget cuts.

When the economy improved, the carrier was taken out of for exercises at least one to two times a month.

Capt Suvin said 451 personnel are stationed on the carrier and that number can exceed 600 during special exercises.

HTMS Chakri Naruebet was constructed by Spanish shipbuilders Bazan/Navantia. (photo : Naval Technology)

The carrier has been deployed on several disaster relief operations, including in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami when it transported more than 700 bodies.

During the floods in the South in March, the ship was sent to Surat Thani and plucked 734 stranded visitors from Koh Tao. "We were the first agency to reach flood-hit people," said Capt Suvin.

The carrier has a fully equipped hospital with more than 40 beds.

In the event of a territorial dispute, the carrier serves as a floating operation command centre. In peace time, it is duty-bound to protect the country's marine resources and help people affected by natural disasters.

Naval personnel man an anti-aircraft gun. (photo : Bangkok Post)

The officers' uniforms make the aircraft carrier more colourful. They don red, yellow, green, purple and white uniforms depending on the section they are attached to. Those wearing red uniforms belong to the firefighting section, for example, while those in yellow work for the air traffic control unit.

The carrier has a kitchen with the capacity to feed almost 500 personnel.

Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Chamnong Saengkham, 58, the head chef, said 15 staff prepare meals for everyone. His team cooks 50 kilogrammes of rice a day for three meals. Vegetables, meat and other ingredients are bought fresh from a market in Sattahip district.

Petty Officer 1st Class Thitipong Thongyoi, 29, said he was proud of being a crew member on the country's largest naval vessel.

HTMS Chakri Naruebet in side view (image : Shipbucket-MConrads)

Floating Facts

HTMS Chakri Naruebet

Builder: Bazan of Spain
Keel-laying ceremony: July 12, 1994
Launched: Jan 20, 1996
Commissioned: March 20, 1997

Length: 182.6 metres (overall)
Beam:22.5 metres (flight-deck waterline), 30.5 metres (maximum)
Height (flight deck): 18.5 metres
Height (masthead): 42 metres
Draught: 6.2 metres
Displacement: 11,544 tonnes (fully laden)
Cruising speed: 12 knots
Maximum speed: 27 knots
Range: 10,000 nautical miles at 12 knots
Propulsion:Combined diesel or gas (CODOG) turbine system
- 2 x GE LM2500 gas turbines
- 2 x Bazan-MTU 16V 1163 TB83 diesel engines
- 2 propulsion shaftswith 4-bladed propellers
Power system: 4 power generators
4 back-up power generators

Other equipment:
3 sets of 155-tonne air-conditioners
2 sets 5-tonne cooling systems
2 sets of stabilisers
4 sets of reverse osmosis water machines
5 elevators

Hospital: Check-up room, operating room, X-ray room, dental room, 15 beds and 26 auxiliary beds for emergencies

Personnel:451 officers including 42 commissioned navy officers; 69 chief petty officers; 230 petty officers; 110 seamen

Weaponry: Three Sandral launchers Four 20mm close-in weapons systems
Aircraft carried: Nine Spanish Matador AV-8s aircraft Six S-70B Seahawk helicopters

(Bangkok Post)

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