HTMS Chakri Naruebet Thailand, The World's Smallest Aircraft Carrier And Dubbed The Royal Cruise Ship

HTMS Chakri Naruebet Thailand, The World's Smallest Aircraft Carrier And Dubbed The Royal Cruise Ship
Thai Carrier Aircraft  HTMS Chakri Naruebet

Bangkok - Not many countries have aircraft carriers to strengthen their naval military. In ASEAN itself, Thailand is a country that has an aircraft carrier. Interestingly, the aircraft carrier owned by Thailand is considered to have a small size and is even dubbed the smallest aircraft carrier in the world.

In the 1980s, the Thai Navy wanted a symbol that could highlight the strength of its country. At that time, the Thai Navy decided to have an aircraft carrier. So in 1992, Thailand started building a US$285 million aircraft carrier called the HTMS Chakri Naruebet.

Thailand's carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet was completed in 1997 after five years of construction to emerge as the only aircraft carrier in the Southeast Asian region.

Quoted from Defense Security Asia, it is certainly a matter of pride for Thailand because it has the only aircraft carrier in the region. The carrier design was based on the Spanish Navy ship Principe de Asturias and was built by Spanish shipbuilder Bazan.

However, misfortune hit Thailand in 1997. Once completed in 1997, Thailand like other Asian countries was hit by serious financial and economic problems in the so-called Asian Financial Crisis. Due to the serious financial and economic problems faced by the Thai government due to the financial crisis, the ship HTMS Chakri Naruebet which is supposed to be a symbol of national pride and the country's navy spends more time at Sattahip Naval Base than sailing on the sea.

To note, Chakri Naruebet means Sovereignty of the Chakri Dynasty. With a weight of 11,400 tons (full load), the length of the entire ship of the pride of the Thai navy is 182 meters. With its overall size, the Chakri Naruebet is recognized as the smallest aircraft carrier in the world, much smaller than any other carrier.

But the Thai Navy refuses to categorize its ship as an aircraft carrier but instead refers to it as a helicopter carrier. The aircraft can carry 62 officers, 393 members and 146 crew members to operate nine Harrier AV-8S (Matador) fighters procured from the Spanish Air Force and six SH-70 helicopters to transport the country's marines.

However, in 2006, the Chakri Naruebet air force was disbanded with all of the Thai Navy's AV-8 aircraft decommissioned, leaving Southeast Asia's only aircraft carrier without an aircraft.

Even without fighter planes, the Thai Navy aircraft carrier continues to serve the country, especially in humanitarian missions such as rescuing victims when the country was hit by the Tsunami some time ago.

It is also used to take the Thai royal family for sightseeing, causing the public to refer to the Chakri Naruebet as a royal cruise ship.

There are also observers in Thailand who call the aircraft carrier Thai-tanic a joke against the ship which is described as nothing more than a white elephant in the Thai Navy fleet.

Then, why don't all countries have aircraft carriers? In short, aircraft carrier development is a very complicated and costly job. The US Navy's largest and most advanced aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, has spent at least 13 billion during the construction process.

An aircraft carrier is like a moving runway, used to fly planes or other air fleets as much and as often as possible.

Quoted from Popular Mechanics, to fly an aircraft, an aircraft carrier needs a deck equipped with catapults or ski ramps. Some existing carriers have flight decks of 600 feet or more, while the US Navy's Ford Class has decks of 1,092 feet.

In essence, the bigger the carrier, the bigger the flight deck, and the more planes it can carry. And as aircraft operators, aircraft carriers must also be able to carry a lot of logistics supplies. Such as fuel, spare engines, and weaponry for its fighter aircraft fleet. Not to mention a special room to test aircraft engines, hangars to maintain and store aircraft.

To quote Popular Mechanics, for a large aircraft carrier, it must have a system for launching and recovering aircraft, including catapults and containment equipment.

And one of the challenges of building an aircraft carrier is propulsion, imagine how much power it would take to propel an object of this size across the water.

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