According to the newspaper Bangkok Post, the maneuvers are aimed at expanding mutual opportunities to combat submarines.
The Royal Thai Navy and the US Navy began the annual Guardian Sea joint exercise in the Andaman Sea on Sunday. As reported by the newspaper Bangkok Post, the maneuvers are aimed at expanding mutual opportunities to combat submarines.
“Guardian of the Sea – is a bilateral exercise between the Navy of Thailand and the United States – said during the opening ceremony rear admiral Kamthorn Chkharoenkiat. – This naval operation is aimed at combating submarines with the participation of ships and aircraft. This is a great opportunity for our Navy to share methods and skills, as well as plan tracking and attack submarines in a variety of environments”.
On the Thai side, the maneuvers involved multi-purpose stealth frigate HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej, guided missile frigate HTMS Taksin, patrol ship HTMS Long Lom and anti-submarine helicopters S-70B. The United States involved in the exercise tanker USNS Guadalupe (T-AO-200) and nuclear submarine class SSN.
According to Chkharoenkiat, the Andaman Sea is deep enough to carry out such maneuvers, which allows the submarine to move unnoticed and gives anti-submarine units the opportunity to gain experience in the use of ships and aircraft in operations against submarines. Since the US Navy sent a real submarine to participate in the maneuvers, it will be very useful for the Thai Navy, added the rear admiral.
He also said that the maneuvers will strengthen the relations and cooperation between the two countries. Chkharoenkiat stressed that the exercises will serve as a test for the readiness of the Thai Navy for the commissioning of its own submarines in the near future. In July 2018, the Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-Ocha approved the beginning of the design of a small submarine, which will take about four years and 200 million baht ($6.27 million). The creation of the submarine, which previously will cost 1 billion baht ($31.35 million), will take another two years.
The first Thai-American naval exercises Guardian Sea were held in 2012. Since then, the maneuvers are held annually under the joint command of Thailand and the United States.