Thai Navy Reveals 3 Factors for the Purchase of Chinese Submarines

People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN) Yuan-class submarine.

Chief of Navy Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet informed reporters about the problem with the submarine’s engine after talking to the head of the Chinese Navy. He said the state-owned China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) will have to replace the Thai submarine engines, German MTU 396 engines, with Chinese CHD 620 engines.

The Thai Navy insist on 3 important considerations: 1. The engine must be safe. 2. The Chinese Navy must certify this to the Royal Thai Navy. 3. There must be compensation for the proper replacement of the engine due to the delay in delivery. These are important factors to consider in order to move forward with the deal or to cancel the agreement.

“At this meeting, I spoke with the Chinese navy chief and the Chinese defence minister. Both of them understood the issue and ensured that the Chinese Navy will support the CSOC-built CHD 620 engine within the agreed timeframe last year,” Admiral Choengchai said.

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Chief of Navy Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet

He added that it would take about 40 months, nearly 3 years and 4 months, to build a submarine after getting the CHD 620 engine. The navy will put the second and third submarines on hold for now or transfer to the frigate warship. Admiral Choengchai said the final decision will depend on the new government as the new budget depends on the new government. He added that the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister will have to talk about the issue.


According to the Diplomat, Thailand agreed in 2017 to pay 13.5 billion baht ($395 million) for the procurement of an S26T Yuan-class submarine from CSOC, with delivery expected in 2023.

Read: Admiral Behind Submarine Deal Defends Need for ‘Dream Weapon’

But the construction on the submarine ground to a halt in 2022 when Germany’s Motor and Turbine Union company said that it would not supply its cutting-edge MTU396 diesel engines to CSOC for installation in the Thai submarine. The German company said it was barred from making the sale due to a European Union government embargo on the sale of military items to China, imposed in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacres.

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In response, CSOS has offered to install a Chinese-made engine in the submarine or to offer Thailand two decommissioned boats from the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

The specific Chinese deal was criticized as a costly extravagance during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many Thais were struggling to get by. Indeed, the pandemic forced the government to postpone its planned purchase of two more Yuan-class subs, at a cost of 22.5 billion baht ($657 million)

On Tuesday, April 25, the Chinese-built HTMS Chang, the Navy’s new multi-purpose amphibious ship with landing platform (LPD-792) supporting submarine operations, arrived at Chuk Samet Port, Sattahip Naval Base, Sattahip District, Chonburi Province.



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The Royal Thai Navy and China signed a contract to acquire a Type 071E (Yuzhao)-class landing platform dock (LPD) in Beijing on September 9, 2019. It reportedly took four years for building and is valued at THB 4 billion ($117 million). There are a total of 196 personnel on board. At present, Capt. Teerasarn Kongman is the ship’s commander.