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The Royal Thai Navy

During the reign of King Rama IV [r. 1851-1868, known as Mongkut, of "The King and I" ], the navy was located in two areas: the Wang Na Navy, under the command of King Pinklao, and the marines for the warships under the command of Somdej Phraya Borommaha Sri Suriyawong (Chuang Bunnag) then the Samuha Kalahom (Defense Minister). At the start of King Rama V's reign, the system of administration was Jatusadom or the division into four ministries (Interior, Royal Household, Finance, Agriculture), with the Defense minister commanding the military.

At that time, the navy was divided into 2 major sections: the first was under the defence minister called "the Royal Palace Navy" or "Orasumpol Navy", and the other was under the command of Krom Phra Rajawang Bovorn Sathan Mongkol, named "Phra Racha Wang Bavorn Navy" or "Wang Na Navy". The Orasumpol Department comprised three main units: the steam ships department, the Mon volunteer department and the Cham volunteer department. The Wang Na Navy had several units under its command: the steam ships department, Cham volunteer department and sea department, also known as sailors department.

In 1885, when Krom Phra Rajawang Bovorn Sathan Mongkol (Krom Phra Rajawang Bovornvijaya Jam) passed away, the Wang Na forces, both army and navy were disbanded. There remained then two major navy forces: Krom Saeng Navy and Orasumpol Navy. Later, King Chulalongkorn appointed H.R.H. Crown Prince Maha Vajirunhis Commander-in-Chief and set up a military system on 8 April 1887 by establishing a War and Marine Department (Krom Yuthanathikarn). In this royal decree, the army and navy were both placed under the command of the Crown Prince. Because the Prince was still a junior, the King made H.H. Prince Bhanubandhuwongse Voradej acting Commander-in-Chief and General Supervisor. As for the Navy, the king appointed Vice Admiral H.H. Prince Saisanidwongse Secretary to the Navy

Later in 1890, the 1887 royal decree was revoked and a decree to establish and manage the Department of War and Marine was issued on 1 April 1890. In the new decree, the name of the department was changed to "Ministry of War and Marine" with the duties of commanding navy and army personnel. The new decree also revoked the position of General Commander and set up the position of Field Marshal or "Commander-in-Chief with absolute control of army and navy forces. According to traditions, the King would hold this position and the Crown Prince would also take up duties. Two units were under direct command: Army Department and Navy Department. The first Chief Staff of the Navy was H.H. Prince Khachorn Charaswongse (Krom Muen Prab Porapaksha).

In 1892, new administrative restructuring was effected superseding the previous four-ministries system (Interior, Royal Household, Finance, Agriculture). A system of 12 ministries was enforced with the Interior Ministry assuming responsibilities for various cities around the kingdom. The Ministry of Defense was no longer responsible for state administration, but only military affairs. Thus in 1892, the Navy Department was placed under the command of Ministry of Defense rather than the Ministry of War and Marines. (With the Ministry of War and Marines looking after only the army). On 11 December 1910, the King upgraded the Navy Department to the Ministry of Navy and on the same day appointed a Minister of the Navy (senabodi). The Ministerial meeting passed a resolution to establish a Defense Council to coordinated the efforts of the army and navy in defence of the country.

The Chief of Staff of the Army was also appointed by the King to be Permanent Secretary and Minister of Defense. The Minister of Navy and other high ranking officers both in service and retired were appointed members of the Council.

Since the Navy Department has been made into a Ministry of Navy, the administrative system was continually updated. However, no major changes were made to the infrastructure but some sections were upgraded to division or departments as required.

During the reign of King Prachadhipok or Rama VII [r. 1925-1935], the world faced an economic recession and Thailand, without exception, was severely affected. The finance and economy of Thailand was in such a low state that country spendings were reduced and offices reorganised. On 8 November 1931, the King ordered the organisation of the Navy and Army into one unit under the name of the Ministry of Defense.

In 1932, the country's administration changed from Absolute Monarchy to Constitutional Monarchy. The Ministry of the Navy was downsized to a Navy Department. During these crucial times, a Central Ministry of Defense committee was organised. Some of the navy sections which were transferred to army command were placed back under navy command and all navy departments were downgraded to divisions except for the Chief of Staff Department. On 30 November 1933, the King issued a decree to change the name of the Navy Department to "The Royal Thai Navy" to conform with "The Royal' Thai Army" and placed it under the direct command of the Ministry of Defense.

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Page last modified: 22-05-2014 18:22:13 ZULU