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Thailand’s Plane-Less Aircraft Carrier Loses Half of Crew to Covid-19 Quarantine

HTMS Chakri Naruebet at Sattahip, Chonburi
HTMS Chakri Naruebet at Sattahip, Chonburi

Its planes are mothballed and it rarely leaves port, but Thailand’s white-elephant aircraft carrier now has a new problem. It doesn’t have half its crew after 273 sailors were forced to quarantine after two contracted Covid-19.

The Royal Thai Navy acknowledged late Monday that crew members from the HTMS Chakri Narubet anchored at the Sattahip Naval Base have been quarantined in a building there after two of sailors were found to be infected.

The two are among 11 of the crew who visited a beer garden in Sattahip. The nine others tested negative.

Health officials from Chonburi communicable disease-control office have urged the navy to check whether any other conscripts visited the same bar beer – that was supposed to be closed under a provincial-wide order – and, if so, to get them tested.

The Chakri Narubet has been incapable of launching any aircraft since 2014 and the last of its aging planes was removed last year. The ship’s only active duty away from port has been to serve as a floating hospital during disaster-level flooding in the south in 2019.