The Royal Thai Navy (Kong Thap Ruea Thai) said first group of Thai submariners would receive their training in China, where Thailand’s first submarine fleet in nearly 70 years are being built. Their training would be completed just in time when the first of the three submarines is expected to be delivered to Thailand in 2023. Candidates must be able to communicate in English and Chinese, as well as physically and metally fit to work within the confined body of submarines. The training program would take two years to complete for each batch of crews.
On 2 July 2015, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) formally selected China’s Yuan-class (Type 041) platform to meet a requirement for three submarines. The Type Type 041 submarine (NATO reporting name: Yuan class) is a class of diesel-electric submarine in China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy. It is China’s first AIP powered submarine and presumed to be one of the quietest diesel-electric submarine classes in service. The Yuan class was primarily designed as “an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) platform capable of hiding submerged for long periods of time in difficult to access shallow littorals.
The RTN’s procurement committee voted unanimously in favour of purchasing the submarine, which has been designated S26T (Thailand), a modified export version of the Yuan class. On 1 July 2016, the RTN submitted a funding plan for its 36 billion baht submarine procurement project to the cabinet for consideration with the expenditure to be spread over 11 years. In May 2017, the Royal Thai Navy and Thai Government signed a contract for one S26T variant of the submarine in a $390 million deal. Orders for an additional two submarines are expected in the coming years. Steel cutting ceremony of the first S26T submarine was held on 4 September 2018 at Wuhan, China.