By Thai Newsroom Reporters
CHIEF PETTY OFFICER Khunakorn “Mor Champ” Jariyot had survived strong winds and high tides alongside other sailors after their navy corvette had capsized and sunk Sunday night. Yet hours later the chief petty officer was nowhere to be found among those sailors who had been rescued to safety from the stormy sea in the Gulf of Thailand.
CPO Khunakorn, the sole male nurse attached to HTMS 442 Sukhothai which sank 19 nautical miles off Prachuap Khiri Khan, is currently reported one of 23 missing persons following the mishap which has so far claimed six fatalities among a total of 106 crewmembers and marines.
Remarkably, CPO Khunakorn had kept his big nursing bag with him, oblivious to the naval survival rule which calls for sailors to weigh as lightly as possible to struggle with high tides and stormy weather in the sea. As a professional, the male nurse was seen carrying his hefty kit despite the circumstances under which he had to float alongside three other sailors as HTMS 442 Sukhothai, deployed since 1987, was slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea.
There were only two life jackets for the four sailors including “Mor Champ”, forcing them to float in a round formation firmly holding each other’s hand. Whilst HTMS 457 Kraburi was coming to their rescue, one of the struggling sailors looked very exhausted and finally drowned before the eyes of his fellow victims. CPO Khunakorn and the other survivors swam to the aft section of the frigate where they embarked to safety.
After taking a rest aboard, CPO Khunakorn borrowed a life jacket from one of the surviving sailors, saying he was going to help others still floating in the stormy sea without bothering to tell how.
Monday morning, everyone wondered where “Mor Champ” could possibly be. Only his nursing bag was found in the mess room of the ship and his name was nowhere on the list of missing persons.
Chief Petty Officer Khunakorn “Mor Champ” Jariyot. Photo: Thai Rath