A gun on a US ally's warship misfired while the crew was clearing stuck shells and struck a frigate

  • A Thai warship's deck gun malfunctioned, leading to an accidental firing.

  • The HTMS Chonburi's misfiring injured 14 crew members on a nearby frigate.

  • The incident occurred at a naval base where the HTMS Chonburi was docked for artillery repairs.

The HTMS Chonburi, a Royal Thai Navy patrol ship, accidentally fired upon another Thai warship, injuring 14 of its crew members on March 14. Days later, Thai media reported the ship's captain had been fired.

The HTMS Chonburi was docked at the Sattahip Naval Base in Thailand's Chon Buri province when its gun malfunctioned and fired a shell, which struck the rear of the frigate HTMS Khirirat and caused a fire on board, the Bangkok Post reported.

Firefighters were immediately called to the scene to subdue the HTMS Khirirat's fire.

The HTMS Chonburi had returned to the naval base for sensitive gun repairs after crew members were unable to remove more than two 76 mm shells from the deck gun's loading system during a drill on March 13, the day before the accident. The 76 mm gun fired while crew members were trying to clear the jam.

The HTMS Chonburi's cannon-safety system is over 40 years old.

Following the accident, the HTMS Chonburi's commander, Lt. Commander Theeranai Laosing, was transferred to an "inactive position," The Nation Thailand reported.

Thailand's Navy is investigating Laosing and his involvement in the incident, the Royal Thai Navy Patrol Squadron commander Chalermchai Suankaew said on Wednesday.

The HTMS Khirirat, which was docked in front of the HTMS Chonburi at the time of the incident, has operated for 50 years as a patrol warship and was built by the US-based manufacturer Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Corporation. It's unclear why the attempt to clear the misfire went so wrong, but it seems basic safety practices, such as ensuring the ship's gun turret wasn't trained on another vessel, may not have been followed.

The Royal Thai Navy said on Tuesday that five of the 14 injured HTMS Khirirat crew members were seriously injured mainly due to smoke inhalation after an investigation.

Those with minor injuries were discharged and crew members with serious injuries were placed in a special care facility. Royal Thai Fleet chief Adm. Chatchai Thongsaard said the Royal Thai Navy will compensate those injured.

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