|Royal Thai Navy Ensign|
The Royal Thai Navy has professional officers and petty officers as proficient as any found in navies throughout the world, but simply being competent to advise a government doesn't always mean that a government will perform the advised action. Small diesel submarines are a force multiplier in area denial missions. Small navies especially need some in their fleet. But foot per foot they are very expensive naval vessels. Its the psychological effect of their stealth that makes them so effective. An enemy is never sure where they are and must proceed with extreme caution. Where as an enemy with superior air power may simply try to take out surface combatants from the air and when the known force is accounted for proceed as planned. But finding those pesky, stealthy small subs can really slow an invasive task force down. Thailand so far hasn't been embroiled with China over ocean exclusive economic zone issues. But the Dragon keeps getting more aggressive and neighbors keep building up naval forces in response. Thailand can not count on not getting sucked into the Dragon's mess, including the possibility of future conflict with a neighbor other than China seeking EEZ expansion away from Chinese contested areas, or responding to a request for assistance from the organization of South East Asian States. The government has finally agreed and a submarine squadron is forming.
The Royal Thai Navy's Submarine Squadron was ceremoniously launched at Sattahip Naval Base in Chon Buri Province on July 7, 2014 with the official opening of a submarine training center. The center is equipped with a German built submarine simulator. It is anticipated that German built diesel boats will be the start up for the fleet. The Squadron is thought to have about 28 officers in Germany and elsewhere undergoing submarine operations training. Anticipate about three commissioned officers per boat double crewed for near continuous operation ( one on board operating / one crew ashore training, switching out at scheduled intervals) and it looks like an initial fleet of not more than 4 boats, but in the confined waters of the Gulf of Thailand that can be a formidable force. Let's hope Thailand continues to reside on untroubled waters but if trouble comes a viable submarine force will be a major weapon in enforcing the national will. We are confident that the Royal Thai Navy will handle this new asset professionally and that the acquisition is in the best interest of the entire region. We believe the growing competency and capabilities of the navies and coast guards of the South East Asian community of nations are a force for good. We believe that cooperation among them is a force for freedom.