CENTRAL GULF OF THAILAND SHIPWRECK (16th C.)
The Central Gulf of
Thailand Shipwreck (otherwise known as the Klang Aow Shipwreck)
was another fishermen find, some 60 miles offshore and in 60 m
of water. Mike Hatcher obtained the position and mobilised a supply
boat and saturation dive spread to recover the Thai ceramics cargo.
The vessel, gear, and divers were supplied by Divcon International.
Flecker accompanied the expedition to document the wreck site.
When the bulk of the
cargo had been recovered the Thai navy intervened, and after a
prolonged stand-off, confiscated the ceramics. The Thais claimed
violation of territorial waters, although the site was actually
in the Exclusive Economic Zone, where shipwreck excavation is
not specifically banned. Free right of passage is guaranteed through
the EEZ, while stopping to work is not necessarily permitted.
The legality of the confiscation remains cloudy.
The supply boat, Australia
Tide, was mobilised out of Singapore. She was fitted with a saturation
dive spread, the first time such a system was ever used to excavate
an ancient shipwreck. An ROV assisted with relocating the site.
Airlifts were chosen for excavation, and scuba was used for recording
Over 8,000 Thai ceramics
were brought to the surface, including many storage jars. Some
of the jars had organic contents, while others contained smaller
ceramic items. A few pieces of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain
were also recovered, typical of this type of wreck site. Three
small Chinese "hand guns" were among the limited number of non-ceramic
of Thailand Wreck Details and Photos
The confiscated cargo
was reported to have been handed over to the Thai Fine Arts Department,
the institution that is responsible for shipwrecks in Thai waters.
An archaeological report
was prepared by Flecker, but several international journals refused
to publish due to the commercial and controversial nature of the
excavation. Details of the site appear in Flecker's Ph.D. thesis:
Excavation of the 10th Century Intan Shipwreck, National University
of Singapore, 2001; BAR International Series 1047, Archaeopress,
Oxford, 2002, and in
Tradition: Hybrid Hulls of Southeast Asia, Flecker, M., International
Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Volume 36(1), 2007.