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Coastal patrol boats launched by royals

The Royal Thai Navy is preparing to present three brand-new coastal patrol boats to His Majesty the King in honour of his 80th birthday and in recognition of his considerable shipbuilding talent.

Published on September 7, 2007

Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn yesterday attended a ceremony to launch two of the new patrol boats at Marsun Co's dockyard in Samut Prakan's Muang district.

Also attending were Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, Navy chief Admiral Sathiraphan Keyanont and Army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin.

The ceremony combined both Thai and Western elements.

It began with a blessing by monks, and then the Princess anointed the Tor 992 and Tor 993 boats. After that, Her Majesty cut a rope so champagne bottles could swing onto the bows of the boats and send them floating down the Chao Phya River.

Many captains from France, the United Kingdom and the United States witnessed the launch.

Her Majesty told Sathiraphan that His Majesty liked the three boats very much. "They have done better than what have been required. Thailand's shipbuilding industry can advance further".

Sathiraphan said the boats would be adorned with decorative lights when they sail to Klaikangwon Palace in Prachuap Khiri Khan on His Majesty's birthday.

Prior to that, the Tor 992 and Tor 993 vessels will be tested in the sea just like the Tor 991 in the same class. Launched on April 30, the Tor 991 underwent shakedown trials and its performance showed impressive results.

All three boats in this class have identical features and shape.

Their names were based on their model - Tor 91 boat class - and the additional figure "9" represents King Rama IX.

His Majesty is the ninth king in the Chakri Dynasty and is also known as King Rama IX.

The Navy said the project to build the Tor 991, Tor 992 and Tor 993 vessels had begun after His Majesty recommended building a larger version of its old Tor 91 series patrol boats, on April 15, 2002.

"Large warships are expensive and incur high operating cost," His Majesty was quoted as saying. "The Royal Thai Navy should therefore build appropriate-sized boats for use. After you have successfully built the Tor 91 patrol-boat class, you should build more boats in a larger size".

The Tor 991, Tor 992 and Tor 993 vessels are about 10 per cent bigger than the old version.

Based on His Majesty's advice, their design is also improved, allowing them to enjoy faster speed while consuming less fuel.

Behind the Tor 91 class was His Majesty himself.

In 1960, the King suggested the Navy should build coastal patrol boats for its own use. After that, His Majesty contributed to the boat-building by reviewing their designs and offering advice to the Naval Dockyard Department.

On September 12, 1967, His Majesty attended the keel-laying ceremony. When it was completed, he also joined its test run in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The Tor 91 class has been extended to Tor 92, Tor 93, Tor 94, Tor 95, Tor 96, Tor 97, Tor 98 and Tor 99.

The Tor 91 boats have conducted patrols, protecting fishing trawlers from piracy threats and carrying out rescue operations during disasters.

Kupluthai Pungkanon,

 Pariya Laowiwat,

 Urisara Kowitdamrong

 The Nation



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