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Thai Navy continues Rohingya assistance mission, without ‘floating hospital’

PHUKET: — The Royal Thai Navy is continuing its “search and assist” operation for Rohingya and other migrants arriving in the Andaman Sea north of Phuket, despite its key “floating hospital”, the HTMS Angthong, being recalled to its home port in Chon Buri.

Seven warships and search-and-rescue patrol aircraft were initially deployed from the Navy’s Third Area Command at Cape Panwa, on Phuket’s east coast, on May 29.

Among them was the the guided missile frigate HTMS Saiburi and the HTMS Angthong, a landing platform dock ship that was reconfigured to serve as a floating hospital.

Yet, the HTMS Angthong began its journey back to Chon Buri last Saturday (June 27), Vice-Admiral Sayan Prasongsamrej, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Naval Area, told The Phuket News.

“The HTMS Angthong received its orders to return at 6 pm on June 27 so that it can carry out its next mission from the [Navy] base at Sattahip,” he confirmed.

The Navy will continue its “search and assist” operation, he added, despite its initial orders to carry out the mission expiring on June 10.

“We have not seen any boats carrying Rohingya or any other migrants since the mission began on May 28,” V/Adm Sayan said.

“So I think the Third Area Command can now carry on this mission alone.”