Old Tanks Go Into Service as Artificial Reef in Thailand

Old Chinese-made Type 59 tanks used by the Royal Thai Army will take up a new battle for the country's marine environment when they are sunk in the southern part of the country to form an artificial reef. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Thailand Monday continued work to rehabilitate its undersea ecosystem by sinking the first of 25 old tanks for use as artificial reefs.

The Chinese-made Type 59 tanks are being dropped into the southern coastal waters of Narathiwat and Pattani, not Pattaya. But the initiative is still a positive step for both the marine environment and for Thailand divers.

According to The Nation newspaper:

The tank was among 25 tanks in disrepair that were donated by the Royal Thai Army.

Used by the Army since 1987, the vehicles were transported to Bangkok’s Klong Toei Port in July before being shipped off to Narathiwat.

This project is meant to lend a hand to Her Majesty the Queen’s moves to help the local fishery industry along the coasts of Narathiwat and Pattani as well as rehabilitate the sea in the area.

The Type 59 (Chinese industrial designation: WZ120) Main Battle Tank was a Chinese-produced version of the Soviet  T-54A tank, an improvement over the ubiquitous T-54/55.

The first vehicles were produced in 1958 and were accepted into service in 1959, with serial production beginning in 1963.

Approximately 9,500 of the tanks were produced by the time production ended in 1980 with approximately 5,500 serving with the Chinese armed forces. Thailand operated 158 of the vehicles.

The U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper had this to say:

A wide-ranging marine conservation policy is being enacted in Thailand to preserve fish stocks and keep the seafood industry afloat.

The Government announced a three-month ban on fishing in parts of the Gulf of Thailand last year in an attempt to improve breeding and replenish fish stocks.

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