Dive deep beneath the surface and you’ll find the sea isn’t the only realm shrouded in waves of intrigue and mystery. Recently, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) emerged from the bureaucratic abyss to shine a light upon the Thailand Navy’s submarine saga. Echoing through the corridors of power, the OAG’s voice has resounded with clarity: If the Navy dreams of sailing smoothly on with their ₿13.5-billion submarine procurement aspirations, they are to navigate the swirling waters of cabinet approval due to their endeavour stretching across international tides.
Amidst the halls of the Navy’s command, a source, speaking in hushed tones under a veil of anonymity, reveals the crux of a bubbling quandary. At the heart of the storm sits a contract extension of 1,217 days, one that doesn’t simply require a nod from the admirals but a decree from the highest echelon of government mandarins due to its cross-border nature. “To extend or not to extend,” that is the question only the cabinet can answer, whispers the source.
Yet, when it comes to altering the heartbeat of these deep-sea leviathans – the submarine engines, the Navy is prompted to whip out their technical sextants and charts. The responsibility weighs anchor squarely on their shoulders to assess if the new engine, a CHD620 offered as a replacement by China, can keep the Navy’s maritime dreams afloat or if it’s just swapping the wind in their sails for an ill-fated current.
The Navy’s vessel venture into the unknown faced a squall when Germany, with a raised regulatory eyebrow, refused to let their engines power Chinese military quests. Now, with China extending an olive branch in the form of a home-grown engine, the perpetual motion of the bureaucratic machine churns as the Pheu Thai-led government muses over the substitution of a submarine for a pricier frigate.
Yet, should this engine exchange find favourable winds, the Navy would still have to count no less than 40 moons before their submarine procurement can claim victory against the tides. Unseen adversaries, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and this engine conundrum, have left the submarine’s construction marooned; its keel dry and barren in the dock of uncertainties.
Our tale thickens as Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang stands amidst the eye of this brewing tempest. With steadfast discretion, he refuses to unfurl the sails and divulge the OAG’s sage advice. He has yet to lay his eyes upon the full manuscript of their counsel. “The cabinet’s decree shall chart our course,” he proclaims, as all eyes turn towards the government’s captains, waiting for the compass to settle and the path to become clear.
The Navy’s submarine saga is a tale of robust resilience and intricate technicality, a voyage through the straits of regulation and the straitened buccaneer spirit. But one thing remains certain: in this ocean of decision and deliberation, only the most steadfast navigator can bring the ship safely to port.