USS Gallup/HTMS Prasae Memorial

Recently, on a rainy, gloomy day in Thailand, I visited an interesting piece of naval history. The HTMS Prasae. Not a typical attraction, in fact, I don’t think it’s much of an attraction at all as it probably goes unnoticed by most travellers, the Tacoma class frigate sits decaying on a weather beaten concrete pad overlooking the gulf of Thailand, in Rayong Province.

A bit of history
The ship was originally the USS Gallup, and was a patrol gunboat commissioned for the United States Navy in 1944. She was primarily used as an escort ship and was also involved in several battles including Biak Island and the invasion of Leyte. Her duties during those events included anti-submarine and anti-mine activities, shelling and escorting other ships.

Near the end of World War 2, the Gallop was transferred to the Soviet Navy in Operation Hula in preparation for war with Japan. Gallup was decommissioned from the US Navy in August, 1945 and was transferred to the Soviet Union along with her sister-ships. Commissioned as an escort vessel, she was too late to be of any assistance in World War 2 and served out part of her post war career patrolling the Soviet Far East.

Following World War II, the US Government began negotiations for the return of US ships that were given to the Soviet Union. 480 of 585 ships were requested for return and finally after several years, in 1949, the former USS Gallup was returned.

Back in US hands and reverted back to Gallup she was recommissioned in 1950 and sent back to sea for duty during the Korean War. During this time she was utilized for harbor control, search and rescue, anti-submarine patrol, escort duties, and bombardment missions. Korean war service ended in October 1951 when she was decommissioned from the US Navy and transferred to the Royal Thai Navy under the Military Defense Assistance Program. Renamed HTMS Prasae, the vessel remained in service until June, 2000 and has survived on as a museum ship from 2003.

Captain not on the bridge: Years of decay, vandalism and weather have taken their toll on the bridge. Still, it is an interesting piece of history that can turn any adult into a kid again!

These days, the ship is certainly less proud than before although that does not reduce the impact that this vessel has on the visitor. Upon arriving, I was struck by how accessible the ship was. No guards, no ticket agent, no security fences, nothing. You parked and climbed some metal steps to the main deck. From there you were really free to explore anywhere you liked. The site isn’t maintained all that well and the ship did have some areas where poor footing could result in severe injury. Most of the interior passageways were off limits – having been welded shut or locked with chains and padlocks. That said, there were some hatchways that had been forced open by vandals offering some glimpses to the ships dark, rotting corridors. No, I didn’t venture inside these, although I was tempted!

All hands on deck! The ship has these Oerlikon 20-mm cannon which you can move about and let loose on imaginary foes.

A peek inside a couple of those open hatches. Roaming around this ship was exciting, but the inner chicken got the better of me and this was as far inside as I got!

The remaining lifeboat and a view across the main deck of the ship.

The ship still has a strong presence – if not saddened a bit by its placement in the mud.

If you’re wanting to check out something different in Thailand I definitely recommend taking the trip out to HTMS Prasae. It is certainly worth the time it took to get there. For those who enjoy military history and “living” museums, or who are young at heart – this place delivers. It is not a perfect attraction, far from it in fact. No signs of regular maintenance, somewhat difficult location to get to, often dangerous conditions on board the ship and obvious vandalism diminish the site – but not enough to have made it less enjoyable for me. I was a kid in a candy store here!

*** out of 5
Cost: Free
Location: See link below
Type of attraction: Military/Memorial/Museum

Location Map:
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