Royal Thai Navy Missions
The constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand specifies the relationship between the state and military forces that "the state shall arrange for the maintenance of the armed forces for the protection and upholding of its independence, security of the state, institution of kingship, national interests and the democratic regime with the King as Head of State."
The Act of Parliament on the Defense Organisational Structure and its Administration provides a broader function of the Royal Thai Navy under Defense: "It shall be responsible for the preparation of naval forces and the defence of the kingdom with Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy being held accountable. " This act is being amended. However, the role of the navy will remain intact.
The missions and responsibilities of the Royal Thai Navy are determined by several factors including 28 provisions of law such as the Customs Act, the Fishery Act, the Piracy Act, national security policy, maritime security policy, government Policy, and the policies of the Defense Minister, Supreme Commander and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy. In addition, national maritime interests and areas of operation also determine the missions of the Royal Thai Navy because Thailand is strategically flanked to the east by the Gulf of Thailand covering the area of 200 nautical miles starting from the Narathiwat Province to Point of Ca Mau, Vietnam, and to the west by the Andaman Sea which leads to the Indian Ocean.
The country has a total coastline of 1,500 nautical miles with internal waters, territorial waters, contiguous seas, continental shelves and the Exclusive Economic Zones covering 361,000 square kilometers of its total areas of operation. Apart from protection of the sea, the Royal Thai Navy is in charge of riverine operation along the Mekong River on the Thai-Lao border from Chiang Rai Province to Ubon Rat_hathani Province totaling 917 kilometers. The littoral areas in Chanthaburi and Trat Provinces and also in most area of Narathiwat Province to the south are also under Thai navy responsibility.
In wartime or times of intense conflict, the Royal Thai Navy shall
- Defend the country at sea
- Maintain sea lines of communication in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea
- Conduct amphibious operations
- Support army operation along the coast?lines and in the area of responsibility
- Conduct anti-air defence in the area of assigned responsibility
- Conduct sea logistic support
In peacetime, the Royal Thai Navy shall
- Prepare forces in combat-readiness
- Enforce laws at sea
- Provide sea logistic support
- Conduct oceanographic and hydrographic surveys and produce navigational charts and other navigational materials
- Fulfill the government's assignments such as provision of support to UN sponsored missions, suppression of narcotics and human trafficking, mafia activities and illegal labour
- Protect fisheries activities
- Conserve and protect the environment
- Conduct search and rescue at sea
- Provide relief and support operation
- Support national development projects and provide general public assistance
The Royal Thai Navy is an important government instrument that helps support the implementation of government foreign policy. In the past, the Royal Thai Navy carried out a number of assignments given by the government, in addition to defending the country and protecting national interests at sea. Good illustrations of these assignments are its participation with UN forces in the Korean War in 1950 as detailed in chapter 4, its conveyance of food supplies and donations to Somalia in 1993 and its participation in the UN Missions in East Timor and Iraq.
Years of destructive civil wars in Somalia brought extreme hardship to the Somalia people. When the government sought help from the world community, many countries led by the UN joined hands to render assistance to the tom country. The Royal Thai government assigned the Royal Thai Navy to deliver 10,000 sacks of rice to Somalia. On 1 March 1993, HTMS Surin (LST) was entrusted with the job to convey the sacks of rice. The Royal Thai Navy took the opportunity to send cadets on board the ship not only for their sea training but also for instilling awareness of humanitarian assistance in operations other than war. The flow of assistance by the Royal Thai government to the Somalia people gained grateful accolades.
As a result of unrest in East Timor , the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) was formed by virtue of UN resolution 1264. Its missions were to maintain peace and security and provide protection support to UNAMET as well as humanitarian assistance. The Royal Thai government committed to this mission by assigning troops to join the UN led forces. On 15 October 1999, the Royal Thai Navy sent HTMS Surin (LST), a naval medical team and a SEAL team under the command of the Supreme Command Headquarters to work with the UN forces until completion of the Misslons.
Even after INTERFET has completed its mission, the Royal Thai Armed Forces continued to send more troops to monitor peace keeping in the East Timor under the UN-led forces. The Royal Thai Navy remained part of the operation headed by Supreme Command Headquarters until all Thai troops were withdrawn from East Timor.
After the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by DoS military operations, the Iraqi people underwent severe hardship and urgently required assistance and rapid rehabilitation. The Royal Thai government sent troops to Iraq as part of the UN mission to render humanitarian assistance. The Royal Thai Navy, as well as all the armed forces personnel joined Supreme Command Headquarters in this mission on 28 September 2003.
Besides its main mission and roles, the Royal Thai Navy also conduct several other activities as assigned by the Thai Government, especially in the field of civic action. Whenever the Kingdom faces natural disasters, such as drought, flood or extreme cold weather, the Royal Thai Navy sets up a disaster relief center near the area to provide water, food, medical supplies and at times, emergency shelter for those affected, In cold weather, blankets and clothings are distributed. The assistance is provided through navy funding as well as donations from the public. Emergencies at sea often occur, due to human error, accidents or natural disaster. During such emergencies, if a ship encounters danger, the Thai navy serves as the main organisation in conducting search and rescue as well as evacuation.
Immediately after the catastrophic tsunami swept six southern provinces of Thailand on the Andaman coast on 26 December 2004, claiming properties and lives of many foreigners and sea locals, the Royal Thai Navy ordered its forces in the Andaman Sea to provide immediate assistance to those affected by the tidal waves. The relief operation was carried out in two phases, the aftermath and the rehabilitation phases. The Royal Thai Navy then deployed a highly capable supporting force to the area, led by the carrier, HTMS Chakri Naruebet.
The Royal Thai Navy deployed 13 ships, 13 aircraft, 4 amphibious vehicles and 1,250 personnel which included the Seal and medical teams in the lwrd hit areas for relief operations. The operations included conducting search and rescue for the distressed at sea and on islets, distributing food, water and medical supplies to the affected and collecting bodies of the deceased. In addition, The Royal Thai Navy set up tsunami relief donation centers across the nation.
For the rehabilitation period, the Royal Thai Navy built both temporary and permanent housing units in Phang-nga and Krabi Provinces for the affected people and helped them to locate their land deeds with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. In addition, the Royal Thai Navy also provided support to other government units to transport their construction materials to islets and coastal areas.
On 15 January 2005, the Royal Thai Navy deployed 10 personnel from the Air and Coastal Defense Command with coml1ul11ication system and sea level measurement equipment on Ko Mien of the Similan Islands, Phang-nga Province to work in close conjunction with the Seismic Station in Chiang Mai. This interim warning station will promptly inform. the Third Naval Area Command and the Meteorological Department of a giant tidal wave for further action if the station detects the vibration of the sea bed and the sharp rising level of the sea in the Indian Ocean. With this system, the public will be informed of the wave at least 30 minutes before the tsunami hits the shore.
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