05BANGKOK1187 AMBASSADOR CALLS ON ROYAL THAI NAVY COMMANDER ADM SAMPOP
“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 001187
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV
PACOM FOR FPA HUSO
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2014
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, MARR, TH, POL/MIL, Tsunami
SUBJECT: THAILAND: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON ROYAL THAI NAVY
COMMANDER ADM SAMPOP
Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (a and d)
1. (C) During a February 14 meeting with the Ambassador,
Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief, ADM Sampop Amrapala,
noted that over half of the RTN\’s Phang Nga Naval Base had
been destroyed by the December 26 tsunami and that it would
be at least six months before the facility was operational.
Nonetheless, Sampop was convinced that RTN capabilities in
the Andaman Sea were not seriously degraded. Sampop
explained that the bulk of the RTN\’s budget was spent on
maintenance. If he had any funds he could use to procure
additional equipment, Sampop would buy surface-to-air Sea
Sparrow and Anti-Submarine ASROC systems. Sampop told the
Ambassador that he looks at the RTN as a force to protect the
Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, not as a blue-water
navy. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) ADM Sampop noted that over 50 percent of the Phang
Nga Naval Base, the RTN\’s primary facility on the Andaman
Sea, was destroyed by the December 26 tsunami. He estimated
that it would be at least six months before the facility was
operational. That said, Sampop told the Ambassador that the
RTN\’s capabilities in the Andaman Sea were not seriously
degraded. Sampop agreed with the Ambassador\’s assessment
that our joint/combined use of Utapao Thai Navy Air Base and
our ability to quickly work together to mitigate the impact
of the tsunami was only possible due to decades of combined
operations. CARAT, Cobra Gold and other exercises had paid
big dividends, he said.
3. (C) Sampop said that the beached Thai frigate at Phang
Nga, the HTMS Kra Buri, would likely be refloated by the
combined efforts of RTN and civilian contractors.
4. (C) While quick to point out that most of the RTN\’s
budget was tied up with maintaining existing equipment,
Sampop said that if he had extra funds, he would concentrate
on buying Sea Sparrows and ASROCs for the RTN\’s two
Knox-class destroyers and Sea Sparrows for his Chinese built
frigates. He noted that three engines for RTN Sea Harrier
aircraft were in the United Kingdom being refitted. Once
those engines return, Sampop expected to be able to use his
Harriers more effectively.
NO PLANS FOR A BLUE WATER NAVY
5. (C) In response to the Ambassador\’s question, Sampop
suggested that the RTN\’s primary mission was to protect the
Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. He did not envision
Thailand developing a blue water naval capability.
Nonetheless, Sampop expressed a desire to improve RTN-USN
links and said that he looked forward to the upcoming visits
of 7th Fleet Commander VADM Greenert and the new PACOM
Commander. He was also appreciative of U.S. Government
assistance in allowing Thai cadets to attend the Naval and
the Coast Guard Acadamies.
6. (C) During the meeting, the Naval Attache complimented
ADM Sampop on the RTN\’s use of the VSTOL Carrier, Chakri
Nareubet, in supporting relief flights to Khao Lak and Phi
Phi Island. Sampop appreciated the fact that the relief
flights represented the longest sustained use of the carrier
since the RTN purchased the ship from Spain in 1997.