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The Pattaya wrecks


HTMS Nakha (Former US Navy LCS 102)


HTMS Nakha (Former US Navy LCS 102)


HTMS Nakha, the last of the WW II vintage LCS class navy ships, is docked at Laem Tien Pier in Sattahip Naval Base ahead of the transfer ceremonies before setting off on her final voyage back home to the United States of America.


This ship was NOT sunk as a wreck, but is included within this web site due to it's functional similarity to other wrecks found in Thai waters.

LCS-102 was build by the US Navy in 1945 and saw active duty during WWII. She has been in proud service with the Thai Navy since 1966, and was in full operational condition at the time of decommissioning.

She was handed back to Veterans of the United States of America in May 2007.

The story was widely covered by local press agencies, and scanned extracts of these reports are given above.


thaif lagusa flagMighty Midget goes home

Royal Thai Navy bids fond farewell to the HTMS Nakha (LCS 102)PM reporters

It was a heartrending yet proud day for the Royal Thai Navy when on Tuesday May 22, in an elaborate ceremony of pomp and purpose, the HTMS Nakha (the former LCS 102) was handed back to the United States of America.
The event culminates ten years of lobbying and requests by the National Association of LCS (L) 1-130 in the United States to bring the historical ship back home to be immortalized in the museum at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo City.
In a plea for the return of the ship, a veteran wrote to the US Secretary of the US Navy, “There are still tens of thousands of World War II Navy and Marine veterans who would appreciate greatly the preservation of the last LCS as a means of memorializing their service in the Pacific campaign and preserving an important piece of amphibious warfare history… Bring her back to the United States”.
The HTMS Nakha has a long and illustrious history. She was built at the Commercial Iron Works in Portland, Oregon. Her keel was laid on March 13, 1945, and she was commissioned in 1945. The LCS-102 served gallantly in the Pacific during the Second World War.
The LCS’ were shallow draft gunboats designed and built to provide a high rate of firepower for Marines going ashore. A spokesman said, “In the early years of World War II, the US Navy and Marine Corps discovered that they needed more close-in gunfire support to protect their troops as they went ashore in amphibious landings. With typical American ingenuity, a new small gunboat was designed and quickly moved into production. The result was the LCS (L), which stood for Landing Craft Support Ship (Large).
“This newly designed ship had more firepower per ton than a battleship and it was capable of going all the way into the beach and providing close-in fire support for our troops going ashore.”

He went on to say, “The US Navy built 130 of them, outfitted with 20mm and 40mm guns as well as rocket launchers for beach bombardment. They were rushed into service in 1944 and 1945. These ships and their brave crews help save the lives of countless soldiers and Marines by providing heavy close in firepower to support amphibious landings in New Guinea, Borneo, Iwo Jima, the Philippines and Okinawa. Thus they came to be known as the Mighty Midgets.”
During the course of the war, twenty six were sunk or badly damaged in combat operations.

Another veteran said, “These ships, like so many others, received little notice when the history books were written because aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers took most of the glory. However, sailors aboard the LCS’ served bravely and well. Their participation in World War II needs to be preserved as a part of our navy’s history.”
After WW II, in the 1950s the United States Navy transferred the LCS 102, along with fifty two sister ships to the newly formed Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force where she was named Himawari. When she was later deemed surplus to requirements, the US asked for the ship to be returned. Under a reciprocal agreement between the USA and Thailand, after an overhaul, she was presented to the Royal Thai Navy in August 1966 at Sattahip Naval Base. Admiral Jaroon Chalermtrien, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy at that time was on hand to receive her. His Majesty the King bestowed the name HTMS Nakha to the new addition to the Royal Thai fleet.
During her 41 years of service with the Royal Thai Navy the HTMS Nakha sailed under 25 fleet commanders. The 387 ton full load HTMS Nakha essentially retained her World war II configuration and is armed with one 76.2 mm single fire Mk 26 dual-purpose gun mount forward, two twin 40mm Mk 1 Mod. 2 antiaircraft mountings, four single 20mm guns and two .50 caliber machine guns.

Finally after years of battling political waters and a sea of red tape, the day finally arrived for the official handover from the Royal Thai Navy back to America, so that the Nakha, as she will continue to be called, can serve as a testament to the ageing veterans and their families of the crucial role she has played over the last 62 years.
The HTMS Nakha was decommissioned last October and work had begun to de-arm the fighting ship. Said one veteran who supervised the de-armament process, “It was a somber moment for the Thai sailors; they had lived and worked on this ship for over 40 years. It was very difficult and heartbreaking for them to remove her claws. They did not want to harm her.”

On May 22, Admiral Sathiraphan Kaeyanon, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy, represented Thailand in the signing over of the vessel. The US Embassy, represented by Capt Walter B Watson Jr, US Naval Attaché and Dr William J Mason, representing the National Association of USS LCS (L) 1-130 were on hand to receive the vessel.

Admiral Sathiraphan said that it had been a long time, 40 years, since the HTMS Nakha was commissioned under the Royal Thai Fleet. The officers that were assigned to her are very attached to her, and when they knew the ship was going to be returned to America they were grateful that they had played their part in taking good care of her.
“This is the first ship of the United States of America to be taken care of by the Royal Thai Navy,” he said proudly.

The Thai commander-in-chief said that in a way, it was a loss for the Royal Thai Navy to return the Nakha to the US. She has served us with honor and distinction. We are sorry to see her leave us, but we are happy and proud in the knowledge that even though she will be kept in a museum, she will bear the Thai name Nakha forever.
Six months ago, National Air Cargo, an American cargo company based out of Buffalo, New York, was approached by the National Association of LCS 1-130 to see if they could help with the project. The President of the company, Mr. Chris Alf then, who has for a its motto “The Weight of the World on our Shoulders” sent his emissaries in South East Asia to research the project and come up with a solution to help these WWII veterans make their dream come a reality. It is thanks to him and his SEA team that this will become a reality. 

The ship will be towed to Hong Kong to be loaded onto a special transport cargo ship for her final voyage home.
So ends the final chapter for the last remaining Mighty Midget./h2>


The following day H.E. Ralph L Boyce, US Ambassador to Thailand presided over a reception to celebrate the event at the Pattaya Marriott Resort and Spa. Organized by Robert Gregory Brooks, president of the Navy League of the United States, Thailand Chapter, the occasion also gave an opportunity to recognize and thank both military and civilian members of the community for their support of the US military peacetime activities in Thailand, especially along the Eastern Seaboard.




Dr. William Mason, Admiral Sattirapan Kenyanon and Capt Walter B Watson Jr. sign the official transfer papers.




Royal Thai Navy crew on the deck of the HTMS Nakha.





Admiral Sattirapan Kenyanon presents a picture of the Nakha to Dr. William Mason.




Military formation to honor the custody transfer of HTMS Nakha.




Admiral Satirapan Kenyanon presents a picture to Capt Walter B Watson Jr.




Commander Peesutsak, directing renovation efforts before the handover. Notice the gun muzzle is open.




Royal Thai Navy sailors lower the Thai flag from the stern of the HTMS Nakha during the handover ceremonies.




Ladies on board the lady of the sea. (l-r) Zeny Amantavivadhana, Janice Mason and Luly Romero.




HTMS Nakha undergoing restoration of underwater hull at the Prachulachomklao Royal Thai Navy Dockyard.




Dr. William Mason who served on the LCS during WW II poses with the demilitarized gun.




LCS L 102 in Kyushu harbor circa 1945.




Bobby Brooks, President Navy League of the United States in Thailand inducts Ambassador Ralph (Skip) Boyce as an honorary member of the Navy League.



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