Koh Tao, Thailand, a world-renowned diving paradise, has unveiled two exciting additions to its underwater world: the HTMS Suphairin and the HTMS Hanhak Sattru wrecks. Koh Tao’s newest wrecks, once serving as fast attack craft for the Royal Thai Navy, now offer thrilling opportunities for divers to explore and discover the rich marine life and history hidden beneath the waves.

Image courtesy of the Koh Tao Tourism Association

Wreck diving in Koh Tao provides divers with a unique opportunity to delve into history, experience marine conservation efforts, and witness marine life thriving around artificial reefs. The recently added HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru wrecks are a testament to a commitment to preserving history while enriching the underwater environment.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of these wrecks, their historical significance, environmental impact, diving conditions, and the courses available for divers eager to embark on underwater adventures to discover the new wrecks.

Image courtesy of the Koh Tao Tourism Association

Historical Context

After 42 years of service, these ships were decommissioned in 2018 and transferred to the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources for a new mission as part of the Underwater Learning Park and Marine Ecosystem Rehabilitation Project in Surat Thani Province. Their sinking marks a unique fusion of history and marine conservation, offering divers an opportunity to explore the relics of Thailand’s naval heritage.

The HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru, which were commissioned in the early 20th Century, served as vital assets in Thailand’s maritime defence. Armed with modern weaponry, including Gabriel surface-to-surface missile launchers, these fast attack craft played diverse roles in safeguarding the nation and conducting joint operations with the Naval Special Warfare Division.

Image courtesy of the Koh Tao Tourism Association

Wrecks as Artificial Reefs: Fostering Marine Biodiversity

The sinking of the HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru wrecks will contribute significantly to the local ecosystem. Some of the benefits we might expect to see include the following.

  • Creating Habitat and Shelter: These wrecks now serve as artificial reefs, providing homes and refuge for a variety of marine organisms, including coral formations. They attract diverse marine species, enhancing overall biodiversity.
  • Climate Resilience: Artificial reefs are more resilient to climate change and pollution, offering a stable environment for marine life. They also facilitate valuable research and studies in marine biology and ecology.
  • Relieving Dive Site Congestion: With Koh Tao’s popularity among divers, the introduction of these two wrecks will help redistribute diving activity and reduce pressure on existing sites.

The wrecks not only offer environmental benefits, but also an exhilarating and enjoyable experience. As PADI Course Director, Chatsakul Kaewpanao, from Big Bubble Diving, states, “Introducing a new wreck in Koh Tao isn’t just about coral conservation and reducing overcrowding; it’s about expanding divers’ horizons. With more dive options, we provide greater opportunities for exploration, allowing divers to take on new courses and continue their training year-round while safeguarding our marine environment.”

Image courtesy of Simon Krogsgaard from Assava Dive Resort

Location and Depths of the HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru

To search for and contact a PADI Dive Center or Resort regarding Koh Tao wreck diving, visit the PADI Dive Shop Locator and use the filters to find the right dive shop for you.

  • HTMS Hanhak Sattru: Located in Aow Mao, on the east coast of Koh Tao, this wreck lies around 22-24 meters/72-79 feet with the top of the wreck currently at 13 meters/43 feet.
  • HTMS Suphairin: Positioned near No Name Pinnacle, this wreck lies around 24-28 meters/79-92 feet with the top of the wreck currently at 16 meters/52 feet. However, it’s worth noting that there are ongoing discussions about the potential addition of another structure that could raise the highest point to 11 meters/36 feet in the future.

Rich Westwood, owner of Fifty Six Dive, along with his team of Divemasters and Instructors are particularly excited about the location of the wrecks. “We at Fifty Six Dive are all so very excited with the arrival of two new wrecks here on Koh Tao. Not only will it create a diverse wreck diving experience for our divers, but the position of them, one on the east side and one on the west of the island, means we can enjoy wreck diving all year round! We are also looking forward to seeing how the locations will impact the different marine life that will adopt these wrecks as their home.”

Image courtesy of Simon Krogsgaard from Assava Dive Resort

Technical Specifications & Characteristics

As many divers and wreck enthusiasts share an appreciation for the history and technical intricacies of ships, detailed specifications of the HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru, Koh Tao’s newest wrecks, are listed below.

Mission Tasks:

  • Coastal defence using the 57/70 mm (2.24/2.75 inch) gun
  • Air defence using the 57/70 mm (2.24/2.75 inch) and 40/70 mm (1.57/2.75 inch) guns
  • Serving as a picket vessel for the fleet
  • Conducting joint operations with the Naval Special Warfare Division
  • Command and control of a group of ships
  • Anti-swarm defence with the 40/70 mm (1.57/2.75 inch) and .50-inch guns

Vessel Specifications:

  • Commissioned: February 5, 1977
  • Decommissioned: October 1, 2018
  • Builder: Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd.

General Characteristics:

  • Length: 44.90 meters / 147.3 feet
  • Width: 7.00 meters / 22.96 feet
  • Draft: 2.11 meters / 6.92 feet
  • Max Speed: 30 knots
  • Max High-Speed: 37.5 knots / 46.4 mph
  • Displacement Standard: 232 tons
  • Full Displacement: 263 tons
  • Maximum Operational Range: 1,170 miles / 1,883 kilometers / 1,164 miles
  • Continuous Operation: 3 days

Weapon Systems:

  • 1 x 57/70 mm (2.24/2.75 inch) gun
  • 1 x 40/70 mm (1.57/2.75 inch) autocannon
  • 2 x .50-inch machine guns
  • WM 28/5 fire control system
  • 6 x 103 mm (4.06 inch) illuminating rocket launchers
  • 1 x Dagaie decoy launcher with 10 launch boxes

Image courtesy of Simon Krogsgaard from Assava Dive Resort

PADI Courses for Wreck Diving Enthusiasts

The HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru wrecks, along with the existing popular wreck dives, the HTMS Sattakut, Unicorn, and MV Trident, make Koh Tao a fantastic wreck diving location. However, wreck diving requires specialized skills and knowledge that should be obtained through the PADI Wreck Diver Specialty course, which typically takes two to four days to complete, depending on the dive shop. PADI Dive Centres and Resorts in Koh Tao offer a range of courses to prepare divers for exciting experiences like these.

Here are some other courses you might consider in order to maximize your wreck dives in Koh Tao.

Whether you’re an experienced diver seeking deeper exploration or a novice eager to discover the world of wreck diving, Koh Tao’s newest wrecks have something to offer. With proper training and respect for the marine environment, you can dive into the rich history and vibrant marine life surrounding these fascinating underwater relics.

Share This

Related Posts