The Royal Thai Navy will hold talks with China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) this month on the submarine engine issue, according to navy spokesman Vice Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin.
The navy will work with CSOC to resolve the problem even though it stands by a purchase-agreement stipulation specifying use of MTU396 diesel engines from Germany to run the vessel’s electric generator set, he said.
The spokesman said the navy expects to hold talks with CSOC in the middle of this month over the engine problem, although he declined to comment on possible solutions.
Under the contract, the sub’s engines must be supplied by Germany’s MTU, but the company has refused to sell the engines to China since they are designated a military/defence item.
Navy commander Adm Somprasong Nilsamai insisted yesterday China would have to comply with the submarine procurement contract signed with the navy and that no change has been made to the agreement.
A source in the navy said construction of the country’s first submarine is not stalled but admitted the process might have been slowed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The submarine’s delivery is scheduled for 2024.
The source said CSOC has asked the navy to alter the contract to replace the German engines with Chinese ones such as the MWM 620 which are of the same standard, but the navy is standing by the original contract.
According to the source, MTU396 diesel engines are also made in China by a licensed manufacturer.
“But we don’t trust others, only [German-made] MTU engines,” said the source.