China’s leading shipbuilding firm China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) started building a Type S26T submarine on Tuesday for the Royal Thai Navy, an important cooperation project between China and Thailand, CSIC announced on its WeChat account Tuesday.
Senior officers from the Thai and Chinese militaries attended a steel-cutting ceremony at a shipyard in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, to mark the start of the project, the announcement said.
The Royal Thai Navy agreed a 13.5 billion Thai baht (US$411 million) deal with CSIC for one S26T diesel-electric submarine – derived from the PLA Navy’s Type 039B, or Yuan-class – in May 2017 and the vessel is expected to be delivered by 2023.
Thailand’s military government had planned to buy three submarines from Beijing, but after coming under strong opposition at home it reduced the number to one.
The class is designed to replace the aging Type 033 Romeo and the older Type 035 submarines that previously formed the backbone of the conventional submarine force.