Navy chief Adm Somprasong Nilsamai on Sunday confirmed that China made an informal offer to provide the Thai navy with two used submarines to train staff while waiting for the first of its order of Chinese-made submarines to be delivered.
Adm Somprasong, however, declined to comment further on the issue.
A source in the navy told the media that the offer was made because China has encountered problems in attempting to purchase a submarine engine from MTU in Germany for the S26T Yuan-class submarine being assembled in Wuhan for the Thai navy.
Aside from the good relations between Thailand and China, the secondhand submarine offer was made partly because the German supplier of submarine engines refused to sell one to China after learning that it would use the engine for assembling a new submarine for sale to another country.
As negotiations continue, the delivery, previously scheduled for September next year, may have to be postponed until April 2024.
Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan initiated the purchase when he was defence minister, although when asked about the latest development on Sunday, would not disclose any more details, other than to remark that “I am hoping for good news”.
Meanwhile, Adm Tharoengsak Sirisawat, navy chief of staff, will set up a panel to consider the viability of taking on the vessels’ maintenance costs.