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HTMS Songkla (No 33)

 HTMS Thonburi, a.k.a Dhonburi (No 34).

HTMS Thonburi, a.k.a Dhonburi

The HTMS Thonburi was 76 m x 14 m. The torpedo boat wreckss at Koh Chang HTMS Chonburi and HTMS Songkla were 67 x 6,5 m.

[ Koh Chang ]

depth 5-12meters; air diving

HTMS Thonburi and HTMS Songkra


Thai Translation:- 'On the 17 January 2448 Buddhist Era (1941 CE) came to fight with a group of French Boats at Koh Chang.
During the subsequent actions, suffered shots from the French Boats and came to sink at the Jorb Headland( Koh Chang). It was later raised.'

On 17th January 1941 French forces composed by light cruiser Lamotte-Piquet and gunboats Dumont d´Urville, Amiral Charner, Thahure and Marne under overall command of Captain Bérenger closed in on Thai forces anchored south of Koh Chang. Below an image from Thai historical archives compares the size of the Thai vessel Thonburi(white) with the very much  larger French vessel Lamontte-Picquet(black) involved in this battle. From the outset, there could have been There could little doubt about the eventual outcome of the battle.


The first shots were fired from HTMS Songkla (No 33) 06H14 followed by HTMS Chonburi (No 34). The torpedoboats were desperately trying to raze steam and could not move or use their torpedoes.


Both torpedo boats received several hits and caught fire. They were abandoned 06H45. HTMS Songkla sunk 06H53 and HTMS Chonburi 06H55.


HTMS Songkla lost two men and HTMS Chonburi 14 men.




Below follows a full historical account from The Royal Thai Navy online historical archive at

My thanks to Khun
Suphakorn P [] of Loxley Information systems Bangkok, for researching this Thai Language resource and for shedding much light onto the events as they actual happened as they were reported by Thai sources, which are entirely missing from all western historical archives.


Thonburi (sunk & refloated)

the thai warship dhonburi. side view. click for hi-res image

elements of the thonburi (or dhonburi as sometimes written) including the 8 inch gun turret and bridge were salvaged and are now kept at the naval academy in samutprakan province. (thai sources).

Specifications (Jan 31 1938)

thai warship dhonburi plan view -

HTMS Thonburi, a.k.a Dhonburi

(Above picture courtesy of web site)

Laid down by Kawasaki Co., Kobe in 1936

Displacement:- 2265 ton, Length 77.5m, beam 14.45m, Powered by twin shaft Diesels 5200hp

Armament 4 x 8inch cannon, 4 x 3inch cannon, 4 x 20mm A. A.

Machinery:= 2 sets of MAN Diesels, 2 shafts 5,200 BHP.

Speed 15.5knots, Range 4000nm, Complement 155


HTMS Chonburi and HTMS Songkra

HTMS Thonburi, a.k.a Dhonburi

Large ocean-going torpedo boats belonged to the Puket-class of 12 ships.


Both built by Cantieri Riuniti dell´ Adriatico in Monfalcone, Italy. HTMS Songkla launched 9th February 1937 and HTMS Chonburi 10th February 1937.


318 ton standard, 470 full load.


66,00 x 6,40 x 2,1 m


2-shaft Parsons geared turbines. 2 Yarrow boilers. 32,5 knots. Complement 70 men.


3-76 mm guns, 2-20 mm AA guns, 6-53,3 cm torpedo tubes.

Wrecks details

A wreck of approx 70meters size marked by 2 large red buoys and is situated approx 200meters from the shore on the South Westerly corner of Koh Chang.

The warship(s), Sinking quite close to shore having been 'beached' in relatively shallow water in an area of sometimes strong currents and often poor 'muddy water' visibility, this large wreck must be dived at the right time to be seen at all. The ideal time is when a 'neaps' slack tide occurs around mid-day, during a prolonged period of calm flat seas. If dived at this time, visibility of 5-10m may be expected. If randomly dived during a tidal run in average weather, you might not see the wreck till you hit it (visibility of 30cm to 2m is not fun!)

Since this wreck is rarely dived, enlist the help of local fishing boats or dive shops locate the wreck. One key feature is a large gear wheeled circular hole where a gun turret would have been. 'Penetration would be ill advised'

Max depth approx 15 meters.


In remembrance of the Thai Naval officers who sacrificed their lives defending their country, an annual Buddhist Merit making ceremony is held every year at Laem Ngob and Koh Chang near the wreck site.

Note:- Elements of the Thonburi (or Dhonburi as sometimes written) including the 8 inch gun turret and bridge are now kept at the Naval academy in Samutprakan province. (Thai sources).

History and details of sinking

Historical Accuracy and timeline courtesy of:-
 'Jane's Fighting ships of WWII' ISBN 1-851-70494-9
 'The Encyclopedia of Ships' Published by Silver Dale Books ISBN 1-85605-591-4


There is some confusion over what exactly happening during the sea battle involving the Thonburi. Here are the several versions presented from the referrences above. What is clear though is that there is still a wreck of a war ship representing a vessel of the Thonburi's size still on the bottom at Koh Chang at the location where she was first run ashore.

Thonburi Sinking and refloating - Latest Version

Received with great thanks from

Name: Stellan Bojerud
Title:Prof Mil Hist (Ret)
Company: General Staff College Stockholm

battle of koh chang naval chart

KEY:- A = Cruiser Lamotte-Piquet, B = Dumont d´Urville and Amiral Charner, C = Tahure and Marne

According to French and Thai sources the HTMS Thonburi was not south of Koh Chang but east of that island.

She was spotted by French CL Lamotte-Piquet 17th Jan 1941 06H34. The Cl opened fire 06H45. The fourth salvo hit Thonburis bridge 06H48 and killed the Captain.

Thonburi escaped burning and listing to starboard. She was damaged by accident when Thai airforce attacked her.

Thonburi was run ashore on the mainland at Laem Ngop on 6 m water 09H50. The ship was abandoned 11H00. A monument was erected at Laem Ngop pier.

Later salved and repaired in Japan. After WW 2 she was used as HQ ship for Thai patrolboat forces. Broken up. Bridge and a guntower etc monument at RTNA Samuthakarn.

See map: Note the red dots south of Koh Chang showing where two torpedoboats were sunk. They are today marked each with a red buoy.

Thonburi Sinking - Version 2

Jan 17, Fri. 1941

Battle of Koh Chang: Vichy French retaliate against Thai moves against Cambodia. French squadron (Rear Admiral Jules Terraux) consisting of light cruiser Lamotte-Picquet, colonial sloops Admiral Charner and Dumont D'Urville and sloops Tahure and Marne, decisively defeats a Thai Navy force in a surface gunnery and torpedo action fought in the Gulf of Siam, sinking coast defense ship Dhonburi and torpedo boats Cholbury and Songkhla and damaging coast defense ship Sri Ayuthia and torpedo boat Trat in about two hours.

Mar 10, Mon.
Japan steps in to mediate undeclared war between France and Thailand; France cedes territory to Thailand and gives Japan monopoly of Indochinese rice crop and right to airfield at Saigon.

Thonburi Sinking Version 3

Both ships were sunk in action with French vessels 16-17 January 1941. The action was part of during a short-lived conflict with France; the conflict started in November 1940 and ended with an armistice signed 12 days after the ships were sunk. Both were raised late in 1941, but Dhonburi capsized and sank while en route to Japan for repairs. Her sister survived the tow to Japan, and was repaired and returned to Siam by the end of 1941, only to be lost in 1951 during a Siamese revolution. Both hulks were eventually raised and scrapped.

Thonburi sinking version 4

'...increased tension along the borders with Siam, which began in November 1940, led to a naval force being dispatched into the gulf of Siam the following year. LaMotte-Piquet, together with the sloops Admiral Charnier, Dumont D'Urville, Marne and Tahure, engaged a superior but anchored force of Siamese ships off the Koh Chang Archipelago on 17 January and sank the coast defense ship Dhonburi and two torpedo boats, severely damaging the remainder at no cost to the French forces. The French cruiser fired over 450 rounds and made two torpedo attacks during the engagement. (French sources).

Thonburi Sinking (and raising) version 4- Thai Navy Sources

Thai Translation:- 'On the 17 January 2448 Buddhist Era (1941 CE) came to fight with a group of French Boats at Koh Chang. During the subsequent actions, suffered shots from the French Boats and came to sink at the Jorb Headland( Koh Chang). It was later raised.'

Conclusion from the 5 historical references to the Thonburi sinking

The Thai coastal defense ship Thonburi her sister ship the Sri Ayuthiya and other torpedo boats were all badly damaged and likely sunk during a naval battle with the French light cruiser Lamotte-Picquet during a night battle near to Koh Chang on 17th January 1941, during Hostilities following Thailand's "ill-advised' invasion of French Indo-China(Cambodia). The ships were driven ashore by their crews to to prevent them sinking, and an attempt was made to tow them to Japan for repair. The Dhonburi and her sister ship both sank near Koh Chang soon after being taken under tow where the partially salvaged remains may be dived to this day. Her sister ship was subsequently successfully repaired in Japan and returned to Thailand, but in a strange quirk of fate Sri Ayuthiya was sank when caught under fire by shore batteries of dissident elements of the Thai army during the July 1951 uprising.

Extracts from official War office planning documents from WW2 analyzing the outcome of a war in South East Asia, and predicting the outcome of Japanese actions in this area concluded that "Thailand, or Siam, a weak buffer state between colonies of Great Powers, has traditionally played one off against the other while leaning toward the dominant one of the moment"

In July the same year as these Thai warships were sunk, the remaining ships of the Thai Navy supported Japanese operations in French Indo-China (Cambodia).

For the full historical document outlining Thailand's involvement with the both the Japanese and Nazi armed forces follow this link Supplementary Brief Periodic Estimate of the Situation December 1, 1941-March 31, 1942.



Wreck Speciality course



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Price 380.- € The full course

The price included

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The price not included

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Special wreck certification speciality






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