A Vietnamese fishing boat went up in flames and sank after it was caught trawling in Thai waters and its five crewmen arrested in the Gulf of Thailand off this southern province on Sunday.
HTMS Si Racha of the 2nd Naval Area, under Lt Cdr Phumtham Junjuajan, was patrolling the Narathiwat-Koh Losin-Songkhla area when it spotted two boats fishing in Thai waters about 8am.
On seeing the patrol boat the two fishing boats split up and fled in different directions. HTMS Si Racha chased and caught one of them. It was a Vietnamese boat with five crewmen and had been fishing illegally.
The five crew members were moved to the patrol boat. Three navy sailors were left on board it while the patrol boat went after the other fishing boat.
Shortly afterwards, the boarding crew reported to HTMS Si Racha that smoke was billowing from the fishing boat’s engine compartment, followed by flames.
The patrol boat returned and rescued the three sailors, and then stayed in the area until the burning boat sank about 11.40am.
HTMS Si Racha returned to Songkhla navy base about 6pm on Sunday with the five Vietnamese crewmen, who were later charged with illegally fishing in Thai territorial waters.
Since Oct 1 last year, nthe beginning of the fiscal year, 22 foreign fish boats, most of them from Vietnam, have been caught illegally fishing in Thai waters, and a total of 104 crewmen arrested, by 2nd Naval Area patrol boats.