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Koh Tao’s Newest Underwater Treasures: HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru

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Koh Tao, a globally recognized diving haven in Thailand, has recently introduced two new underwater attractions: the HTMS Suphairin and the HTMS Hanhak Sattru wrecks. Previously serving as fast attack vessels for the Royal Thai Navy, these wrecks now present divers with a thrilling chance to uncover marine life and historical secrets beneath the ocean’s surface.

A Dive into History and Conservation

Wreck diving in Koh Tao is not just about exploring sunken ships; it’s a journey through history, a glimpse into marine conservation initiatives, and an opportunity to see marine life flourish around man-made reefs. The addition of the HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru wrecks showcases Koh Tao’s dedication to both preserving its maritime history and enhancing its underwater ecosystem.

HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru
Source: Simon Krogsgaard from Assava Dive Resort

After 42 years of service, these vessels were decommissioned in 2018. They were then repurposed for the Underwater Learning Park and Marine Ecosystem Rehabilitation Project in the Turtle Island area. This transformation from naval assets to underwater attractions symbolizes a harmonious blend of history and marine conservation.

While my primary focus is championing the diving wonders of Koh Chang, I wholeheartedly celebrate the myriad of wrecks scattered throughout the Gulf of Thailand. Each site tells its own underwater tale, adding to the region’s rich tapestry of marine adventures. On a personal note, my heart holds a special fondness for the serene beauty of Koh Phangan, a gem that continually captivates my soul. Dive in and discover the magic for yourself.

The Role of Wrecks in Marine Biodiversity

These wrecks play a pivotal role in the local marine ecosystem:

  • Habitat Creation: Acting as artificial reefs, they offer shelter and homes for various marine species, including corals, thus boosting biodiversity.
  • Climate Adaptability: These artificial reefs show greater resilience to climate change and pollution, ensuring a stable habitat for marine life and aiding marine research.
  • Dive Site Management: Given Koh Tao’s popularity, these new wrecks help distribute diver traffic, alleviating pressure on existing dive spots.

Chatsakul Kaewpanao, a PADI Course Director, emphasizes that introducing a new wreck is about more than conservation; it’s about broadening divers’ experiences and opportunities.

Exploring the Wrecks

The HTMS Hanhak Sattru is located in Aow Mao on Koh Tao’s east coast, resting at depths between 22-24 meters. The HTMS Suphairin, near No Name Pinnacle, lies between 24-28 meters deep. There’s talk of adding another structure to the latter, potentially elevating its highest point.

Rich Westwood, a PADI Course Director, expresses excitement about the wrecks’ locations, anticipating diverse marine life making these wrecks their home due to their strategic placements.

Courses for Wreck Diving Enthusiasts

For those keen on exploring these wrecks, Koh Tao offers specialized courses, including the PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Course. This course equips divers with the necessary skills for such adventures. With the right training, divers of all levels can immerse themselves in the rich history and vibrant marine life these wrecks offer.

HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru
Source: Simon Krogsgaard from Assava Dive Resort

Technical Details of the Wrecks

For those intrigued by the technical aspects:

  • Mission Tasks: These vessels were equipped for coastal and air defense, joint operations with the Naval Special Warfare Division, and command and control of ship groups.
  • Vessel Specifications: Built by Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd., these ships were commissioned in 1977 and decommissioned in 2018.
  • General Characteristics: With a length of 44.90 meters and a width of 7.00 meters, these vessels could achieve a maximum speed of 37.5 knots and had an operational range of 1,170 miles.
  • Weaponry: They were armed with various guns, rocket launchers, and a Dagaie decoy launcher.

In conclusion, Koh Tao’s newest wrecks, HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru, offer divers a unique blend of history, marine conservation, and exploration opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or just starting out, these underwater treasures promise an unforgettable experience.

Starting from Koh Phangan

While Koh Tao is the primary hub for exploring the captivating HTMS Suphairin and HTMS Hanhak Sattru wrecks, diving enthusiasts will be pleased to know that they can also embark on these underwater adventures directly from Koh Phangan. This offers a convenient starting point for those staying on Koh Phangan, allowing them to delve into the rich marine history and vibrant aquatic life of these wrecks without the need for an extended journey to Koh Tao. Dive in and experience the magic of the Gulf of Thailand from a new perspective.

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About the Author

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Maurice van den Heuvel

With 15 years of expertise as a scuba diving instructor, I've guided countless individuals through the aquatic wonders of our world. An entrepreneur with successful business ventures across Europe, I also channel my passion into web creation — including this site. My journey has taken me from the south of the Netherlands to the serene waters of Koh Chang. Dive with me and benefit from a legacy of trust, experience, and unwavering passion.