November 24, 2022
BANGKOK – The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) would seek a guarantee from its Chinese counterpart over the quality of a proposed engine for the S26T Yuan-class submarine being built by a Chinese manufacturer, the Navy chief said on Tuesday.
Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet said he would like China’s navy to guarantee the quality of the improved version of the CHD620 engine offered by China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC).
The Royal Thai Navy hired the CSOC to build a S26T Yuan-class submarine and under the initial contract it was to be equipped with an MTU 396 diesel engine from Germany.
But after Germany refused to sell MTU 396 diesel engines to China on grounds that they are regarded as a military item, the CSOC offered the CHD620 engine to the RTN. The RTN tested the engine in September but declined to approve it due to doubts of its reliability as the engine has not been used in a Chinese submarine.
“Without no one guaranteeing its quality, we can’t be assured that it is really good,” Choengchai said.
“We believe the Chinese navy would not risk its reputation to guarantee the quality of an engine that is not really good. So, we would like the Chinese navy to guarantee it first.”
The Thai Navy chief said he would raise this condition during a meeting with the CSOC representatives early next month to discuss the engine issue.
Choengchai said the Thai Navy chief-of-staff would head a panel of the Navy to meet CSOC representatives early next month and the meeting would also be witnessed by the Chinese ambassador to Thailand and the Chinese embassy’s military attaché.
The Navy chief said the Thai side would like to know for how long the procurement project would be extended so that the RTN could plan other projects. Currently, the RTN could not start other projects as it has to prepare a budget for the submarine procurement. Currently, the project implementation has been extended to the middle of 2024 after the CSOC failed to deliver the submarine as initially scheduled, the Navy chief added.
Choengchai added that he has learned the Pakistani navy had tested the engine installed on its submarine but there was still no information on the spare parts of the Chinese engine.
“We are now awaiting for more information so that we can be assured the engine can run effectively like what they claim,” the Navy chief said.
“If it does not unfold as stated in the contract, the Thai side can annul the contract. Actually, we can annul it now but we must negotiate with them first. We’ll try to have the Chinese navy take part in the negotiations, too.”
Choengchai added that the RTN would also have to take into account the good ties between Thailand and China before making a decision on the issue.