Pattaya boat operators called on carpet following 2 near-disasters

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Poor maintenance blamed for twin accidents

After two serious ferry accidents in two days, area official and marine regulators summoned Pattaya boat operators to remind them of the need for proper maintenance and compliance with regulations.

Banglamung District Chief Chakorn Kanjawattana, Pattaya Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and officials from the city and regional marine departments met with operators June 3, a day after an engine fire aboard a Koh Larn-Pattaya boat forced the rescue of 100 Chinese tourists and two days after a Koh Larn ferry sank, forcing the rescue of 82 passengers.

Chakorn said that both accidents appear to be the result of poor maintenance.

Marine Department Region 6 Director Pimuk Prayoonphrom talks to reporters after the meeting.Marine Department Region 6 Director Pimuk Prayoonphrom talks to reporters after the meeting.

In the case of the Petchara 7, carrying a group of passengers from the Buriram Court, the boat took on water and sank May 31 due to failure of wood in the vessel’s hull. Boats that undergo proper maintenance have weak wood replaced once a year during drydock overhauls.

The boat was operated by Petchara Boat Co., the newly renamed firm whose Koh Larn ferry that sank in 2013, killing seven tourists and subsequently had its license revoked and contract with the city canceled. This time all passengers were offloaded to other boats before the ferry submerged.

In the second case, the privately operated Rungorawan 2 suffered an engine fire. 82 Thais visiting from the Buriram Court were taken off on speedboats. Chakorn said an inspection points to worn and degraded engine parts as the cause of the blaze.

Marine Department officials gave boat operators a refresher course on requirements for public boat operations, including maintenance of boats and engines, required safety equipment, and emergency notification procedures. They also were given another overview on laws and regulations.

Marine Department Region 6 Director Pimuk Prayoonphrom said staffers would step up inspections at Bali Hai Pier before any tourist boat leaves port while the city Marine Department will provide training on knowledge of boat use and rescue procedures.