HTMS Mataphon becomes latest shipwreck for divers
Pattaya scuba divers have a new shipwreck to explore after the government sunk a small Royal Thai Navy landing craft off Koh Larn in honor of HRH the Crown Prince’s 60th birthday.
Sakda Noppasit, secretary at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and Bunchob Sutthimanaswong, director-general of Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, presided over the Oct. 20 ceremony at Bali Hai Pier to sink the HTMS Mataphon to become a new artificial reef and attraction for divers.
A barge with heavy crane tows the HTMS Mataphon out to its new home off Koh Larn, were the ship was sunk to begin its new “mission” as an underwater diving site near Koh Larn. Officials said the sinking will help restore the marine ecosystem and be a place of knowledge for students, residents and tourists.
Sakda said the sinking will help restore the marine ecosystem and be a place of knowledge for students, residents and tourists.
Bunchob said he believed sinking a new ship would reduce the number of divers on coral reefs, reducing damage to the delicate animals.
The Mataphon, built in the American state of Ohio in 1944, was used by the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Lingayen Gulf landings in the Philippines from Jan. 9-18, 1945. It was transferred to the Thai navy in 1950 and was in active use until 2008.
Down she goes! HTMS Mataphon begins its new mission as an underwater diving site near Koh Larn.
The ship is 35 meters long, 9.8 meters wide and has a draught of 1.2 meters. It originally carried a complement of 14 and had a maximum speed of 8 knots. During its life in Thailand, it mainly served as a ferry on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.
The HTMS Mataphon is the latest shipwreck to be sunk intentionally in Pattaya. The much larger HTMS Kood was sunk of Koh Sak in 2006 and sister ship HTMS Khram in 2003 off Koh Phai. Other local wrecks include the popular Hardeep, an Indonesian cargo ship that had been commandeered by the Japanese during World War II, which was sunk during an aerial attack by allied planes in Samaesan in WW2; and the Petchaburi Bremen that went down between Sattahip and Koh Khram in the 1930’s following an explosion in the engine room.
The HTMS Mataphon underway early in its career.