By Thai Newsroom Reporters
PRIME MINISTER PRAYUT Chan-o-cha is yet to be inquired about news reports that China cannot install a German engine for its Yuan-class S26T submarine for sale to Thailand as specified in the signed purchase contract, said an opposition MP today (Feb.27).
Pheu Thai MP Yuttapong Charasathien said he will shortly make the inquiry with Prayut who concurrently acts as defence minister over the confirmed news reports that Germany will not provide MTU diesel engine for the Chinese submarine which is being built for the Thai navy with delivery scheduled for next year.
China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. has reportedly negotiated that any type of the submarine engine other than the earlier-agreed-upon MTU of Germany be installed aboard the 12.4 billion baht submarine and that two Chinese submarines of an unspecified type be provided free of charge for “familiarisation purposes.”
“Why didn’t the Thai navy go for a second-hand German submarine which uses MTU engine instead of buying the Chinese sub without that specific type of engine in the first place? What if the Chinese sub with a substitute engine took a dive but could not float back up, killing all crew undersea?,” commented Yuttapong.
The Pheu Thai MP also held Deputy Prime Minister/former defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan responsible for such a fiasco over the Chinese submarine, given his elaborate push for its procurement project in 2017, besides Prayut in his capacity as current defence minister and navy chief Adm. Somprasong Nilsamai. Prawit has been sardonically dubbed “Father of the Thai Submarine.”
The Thai navy has earlier suspended its procurement plan for a second and third Yuan-class S26T submarines, the Chinese copycat of a Russian Kilo-class submarine, for a combined price of 22.5 billion baht in the face of the sustained pandemic situation and budget constraints.
Meanwhile, Yuttapong charged that four Chinese nationals who were primarily known to be hired by the Chinese shipbuilding firm to do the jobs of project manager, assistant project manager and other engineering works for a submarine docking facility in the premises of Sattahip naval base turned out to be employed in entirely irrelevant fields.
Those Chinese males were declared in their work permits issued by Thailand’s Department of Employment as Chinese-language teachers hired by international schools and language centres in the capital city and nearby, he said.
He said some 15 percent of the navy’s 900 million baht budget for the construction of the submarine docking facility project has already been paid out but no concrete progress has been made as yet.
Top: Thai navy officers looking at a S26T diesel-electric submarine model at the 2017 Defence Exhibition. Photo: British “Jane’s Defence Weekly” website and published by Yqqlm.com
Home Page: A S26T submarine is seen rising above the water in this picture. Photo: Thaimilitaryandasianregion.wordpress.com