This is one of those low key destinations perfect for a family outing when you don’t want to drive too far, encounter too much traffic, deal with large crowds, and you just want a fun relaxing outing.  If this sounds like something you’re interested in then Phra Chulachomklao Fortress is probably just the ticket for your Saturday afternoon.  And if you have kids that would enjoy crawling around an old frigate museum ship then perfect!

 

 

One of the first sights you’ll encounter is this shrine set up to honor an admiral.  You don’t often see 3” cannons to ward off evil spirits and it seems more than a bit out of place, yet it lens a flavor you don’t often see.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/100th  70mm  ISO 100

 

 

One of the first sights you’ll encounter is this shrine set up to honor an admiral.  You don’t often see 3” cannons to ward off evil spirits and it seems more than a bit out of place, yet it lens a flavor you don’t often see.

 

 

 

This monument to a past king was interesting in that it didn’t even warrant live sailors, but instead was manned by plastic dummies.  It became immediately apparent the Thai’s do military monuments differently than in the west.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F8  1/800th  24mm ISO 100

 

 

This monument to King Chulalongkorn, the fifth king of the Chakkree Dynasty, was interesting in that it didn’t even warrant live sailors, but instead was manned by plastic dummies.  It became immediately apparent the Thai’s do military monuments differently than in the west.

 

 

 

This is one of those low key destinations perfect for a family outing when you don’t want to drive too far, encounter too much traffic, deal with large crowds, and you just want a fun relaxing outing.  If this sounds like something you’re interested in then Phra Chulachomklao Fortress is probably just the ticket for your Saturday afternoon.  And if you have kids that would enjoy crawling around an old frigate museum ship then perfect!

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/1000th  195mm  ISO 100

 

 

This was one of my favorite images from the entire day.  An old “pre-Thailand” Siam flag.  A bit worse for wear, but still colorful and you can clearly see the elephant ready for war. Looking at it, I think I’ll add a close crop of the elephant below.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/1000th  195mm  ISO 100

 

 

This was one of my favorite images from the entire day.  A Royal Navy Flag used since 1917. A bit worse for wear, but still colorful and you can clearly see the elephant ready for war. Looking at it, I think I’ll add a close crop of the elephant below.

 

Every base has a communications building and this is Fortress Phra Chulachomkloa’s.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F8  1/80th  78mm  ISO 100

 

 

Every base has a communications building and this is Fortress Phra Chulachomkloa’s.

 

 

 

The parking lot is located right in the middle of the complex, no long walks, a quite peace and relaxed feeling.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/500th  70mm  ISO 100

 

The parking lot is located right in the middle of the complex, no long walks, a quite peace and relaxed feeling.

 

 

 

Overall the base was in disrepair and not the showcase you’d expect from a public military exhibit, yet if you isolated certain parts of the scene some areas were very nice.  I liked the yellow flowers in the trees and the selection of plants in this scene.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/400th  70mm  ISO 100

 

 

Overall the base was in disrepair and not the showcase you’d expect from a public military exhibit, yet if you isolated certain parts of the scene some areas were very nice.  I liked the yellow flowers in the trees and the selection of plants in this scene.

 

 

 

This is perhaps my favorite picture of them all.  Navy men will immediately realize the uniqueness of a porthole on a warship, and how far back it dates the ship.  In this case 1939.  Navy ships are always air conditioned, at least for the last 60-70 years and portholes are places water can breach the hull.  Portholes and warships just don’t mix.. except in some unique antique ships still pulling museum duty.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/320th  175mm  ISO 100

 

 

This is perhaps my favorite picture of them all.  Navy men will immediately realize the uniqueness of a porthole on a warship, and how far back it dates the ship.  In this case 1937.  Navy ships are always air conditioned, at least for the last 60-70 years and portholes are places water can breach the hull.  Portholes and warships just don’t mix.. except in some unique antique ships still pulling museum duty.

 

 

 

These old style donut life preservers seem more at home at a community pool than a warship and it made me smile, and at the same time providing an interesting opportunity for a fun composition.  Balancing the light to the left and on the life preserver was a challenge.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/80th  16mm ISO 100

 

 

These old style donut life preservers seem more at home at a community pool than a warship and it made me smile, and at the same time providing an interesting opportunity for a fun composition.  Balancing the light to the left and on the life preserver was a challenge.

 

 

 

Anti-ship minds are nasty business and believe it or not, old style mines like these Danish built specials are still turning up at the worst time in the worst places.  Notice the attached lighter colored “float?”  They’re hollow metal and have a hole in the top.  The mine sinks down 3-4 meters where it will do maximum damage to the ships hull under the waterline (depth is adjustable), and the float stays visible just long enough for the battle group to clear the area without hitting one.  Meanwhile the float fills slowly with water and finally sinks making the mine totally invisible to an unsuspecting merchant ship.  Yes, civilian merchant marine ships were their primary targets.  They ordinance mate would attach and set the fuse, and then roll them along the tracks off the fantail falling in the water behind the ship in its wake.  They could drop up to 24 of these in quick order.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/200th  173mm  ISO 100

 

 

 

Anti-ship minds are nasty business and believe it or not, old style mines like these Danish built specials are still turning up at the worst time in the worst places.  Notice the attached lighter colored “float?”  They’re hollow metal and have a hole in the top.  The mine sinks down 3-4 meters where it will do maximum damage to the ships hull under the waterline (depth is adjustable), and the float stays visible just long enough for the battle group to clear the area without hitting one.  Meanwhile the float fills slowly with water and finally sinks making the mine totally invisible to an unsuspecting merchant ship.  Yes, civilian merchant marine ships were their primary targets.  They ordinance mate would attach and set the fuse, and then roll them along the tracks off the fantail falling in the water behind the ship in its wake.  They could drop up to 24 of these in quick order.

 

 

 

When airplanes started being used in conjunction with Naval operations the pilots quickly realized white ships were very easy to see.  Most modern navy’s, including the USA’s “Great White Fleet” which once gathered docked in San Franciso’s Bay and became a great scene for local artists (late 1929ish), immediately began painting their ships a certain shade of grey dubbed ‘Navy Grey’ to help a ship remain unspotted by spotter planes. Some rather large notable Navy’s run white ships today.  The last I heard they were going to share their ships with the French so maybe they’ve finally realized it didn’t work out that well.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/500th  70mm  ISO 100

 

 

When airplanes started being used in conjunction with Naval operations the pilots quickly realized white ships were very easy to see.  Most modern navy’s, including the USA’s “Great White Fleet” which once gathered docked in San Franciso’s Bay and became a great scene for local artists (late 1929ish), immediately began painting their ships a certain shade of grey dubbed ‘Navy Grey’ to help a ship remain unspotted by spotter planes. Some rather large notable Navy’s run white ships today.  The last I heard they were going to share their ships with the French so maybe they’ve finally realized it didn’t work out that well.

 

Most museum ships actually sit in water.  Others are placed on platforms so you can see their entire hull, screws, and rudder.  This Thai war ship looks like they dug a big hole and dropped it in the hole because it was the most economical alternative.

 

 

 

This ship was manned by 139 sailors.  It appears to only have two lifeboats capable of holding 24 men each, and that would be very tight.  The math just doesn’t add up.  And the davits holding it so high weren’t the type that lent themselves to rapid deployment.  Notice the gold painted screw?  Museum ships must make decisions based on economics.  Most western museum ships live on the water near a pier, not dropped in a hole.  Their brass/bronze screws are hand shined daily to a high gleam along with the rest of the ships brightwork.  Here, they appear to be painted once a year or so and that’s good enough.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/250th  105mm  ISO 100

 

 

This ship was manned by 170 sailors.  It appears to only have two lifeboats capable of holding 24 men each, and that would be very tight.  The math just doesn’t add up.  And the davits holding it so high weren’t the type that lent themselves to rapid deployment.  Notice the gold painted screw?  Museum ships must make decisions based on economics.  Most western museum ships live on the water near a pier, not dropped in a hole.  Their brass/bronze screws are hand shined daily to a high gleam along with the rest of the ships brightwork.  Here, they appear to be painted once a year or so and that’s good enough.

 

 

 

Another Siam flag flies off a ships mast planted in another hole.  I love the flag, and the mast, but it just doesn’t fit planted in the grass.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/1000th  80mm  ISO 100

 

 

Another Siam flag flies off a ships mast planted in another hole.  I love the flag, and the mast, but it just doesn’t fit planted in the grass.

 

 

 

A painted brass plaque with the ships information.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/500th  140mm  ISO 100

 

 

 

A painted brass plaque with the ships information.

 

 

The rows of portholes, imagine the heat inside this metal tin can at sea in the local waters.  The men must have been miserable. Now consider, these were officer berths.  The enlisted men didn’t even rate a porthole.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6  1/640th  70mm  ISO 100

 

 

The rows of portholes, imagine the heat inside this metal tin can at sea in the local waters.  The men must have been miserable. Now consider, these were officer berths.  The enlisted men didn’t even rate a porthole.

 

 

 

A surface torpedo.  Heavy, a massive load of explosives, but painted just the right color for high visibility.  Perhaps they used them at night?

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/320th  24mm ISO 100

 

 

A surface torpedo.  Heavy, a massive load of explosives, but painted just the right color for high visibility.  Perhaps they used them at night?

 

 

 

The aft turret with an approximate 3-4inch gun. These were to support shore landings and possibly fire other ships.  These were not anti-aircraft, which during this era wasn’t the threat it was later on.  The brass plaques say “honor, courage, bravery…”

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/30th  25mm ISO 100

 

 

 

The aft turret with an approximate 3-4inch gun. These were to support shore landings and possibly fire other ships.  These were not anti-aircraft, which during this era wasn’t the threat it was later on.  The brass plaques say “honor, courage, bravery…”


 

The other side of the gun.  You can see the metal seat where the spotter would set and call the range to the other men who would dial in the elevation and windage, meanwhile two other men would be standing by to break open the breech, pull the expended shell, and reload.  In all, 5-8 men would man this single gun, all exposed to incoming fire.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/25th  17mm ISO 800

 

 

The other side of the gun.  You can see the metal seat where the spotter would set and call the range to the other men who would dial in the elevation and windage, meanwhile two other men would be standing by to break open the breech, pull the expended shell, and reload.  In all, 5-8 men would man this single gun, all exposed to incoming fire.

 

 

 

Another view of the same gun with the barrel looming and the turret area cleared all around.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/20th  12mm ISO 100

 

 

Another view of the same gun with the barrel looming and the turret area cleared all around.

 

 

 

Torpedo tubes, probably added later in this ships life during a refit.  The torpedo’s could be loaded from the rear you can see here, then the entire mechanism pivots 90 degrees and the torpedo’s are fired off the side of the ship.  This means the attacking ship has to present it’s broadside to the enemy. Later they improved on this design.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/80th  24mm ISO 100

 

 

Torpedo tubes, probably added later in this ships life during a refit.  The torpedo’s could be loaded from the rear you can see here, then the entire mechanism pivots 90 degrees and the torpedo’s are fired off the side of the ship.  This means the attacking ship has to present it’s broadside to the enemy. Later they improved on this design.

 

 

 

Another closer look at the Danish built anti-ship mines.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/50th  24mm ISO 100

 

 

 

Another closer look at the Danish built anti-ship mines.  

 

 

 

Here you can see them lined up on the tracks, ballast attached, ready to be rolled over the fantail to wreck havoc on the poor unarmed merchant ships steaming through internationally recognized shipping lanes.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/80th  24mm ISO 100

 

 

 

Here you can see them lined up on the tracks, ballast attached, ready to be rolled over the fantail to wreck havoc on the poor unarmed merchant ships steaming through internationally recognized shipping lanes.

 

 

 

And of course submarines were a threat, constantly on guard with their primary duty being to protect the merchant ships carrying vital war supplies.  The submarines would lay off the lanes waiting for a surface warship to make their presence known.  The only real defense this era of surface warship had were depth charges.  The fuses would be set for a certain depth the captain would call, and the hydraulic mechanism would toss them over the side where they’d quickly sink at a consistently rate before exploding at predetermined depths.  Crews would stand around the charts counting the seconds until explosions were felt, hanging on to keep balance as the force was enough to severely rock their own ship.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/30th  24mm ISO 100

 

 

 

And of course submarines were a threat, constantly on guard with their primary duty being to protect the merchant ships carrying vital war supplies.  The submarines would lay off the lanes waiting for a surface warship to make their presence known.  The only real defense this era of surface warship had were depth charges.  The fuses would be set for a certain depth the captain would call, and the hydraulic mechanism would toss them over the side where they’d quickly sink at a consistently rate before exploding at predetermined depths.  Crews would stand around the charts counting the seconds until explosions were felt, hanging on to keep balance as the force was enough to severely rock their own ship.

 

 

 

Here’s a full view of her.  You can see the rear gun hidden under the white tarp, another gun above it, the mines ready to roll, portholes hopefully dogged shut, coal boilers stoked for maximum speed, all on a hull where the keel could easily be split in half by even a small charge.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/1000th  19mm ISO 100

 

 

Here’s a full view of her.  You can see the rear gun hidden under the white tarp, another gun above it, the mines ready to roll, portholes hopefully dogged shut, coal boilers stoked for maximum speed, all on a hull where the keel could easily be split in half by even a small charge.

 

 

 

When you castrate a proud naval vessel by dropping it in a hole in the ground, I suppose the least you can do is display it’s severed screws and shafts on the ground beside it.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/1000th  15mm ISO 100

 

 

 

When you castrate a proud naval vessel by dropping it in a hole in the ground, I suppose the least you can do is display it’s severed screws and shafts on the ground beside it.

 

 

 

ny25

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/160th  12mm ISO 100

 

 

 

I watched my assistant trying to balance this shot, the bright skyline with the darkened area under the canopy.  Really, I was surprised with how well she did.

 

 

 

The galley in a 1930’s era warship is simplistic in nature, nothing like her western counterparts.  See the big black “kettle” in the upper left?  That’s the rice cooker.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/50th  24mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

The galley in a 1930’s era warship is simplistic in nature, nothing like her western counterparts.  See the big black “kettle” in the upper left?  That’s the rice cooker.

 

 

 

As you’ll notice from the exfil, we went from ISO 100 outside, to ISO 3200 inside.  Another view of the galley showing the stove tops where soups were made.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/50th  24mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

As you’ll notice from the exfil, we went from ISO 100 outside, to ISO 3200 inside.  Another view of the galley showing the stove tops where soups were made.

 

 

 

As you walk in from the lower deck you can see the green floor where the officer berthing areas are.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/30th  24mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

As you walk in from the lower deck you can see the green floor where the officer berthing areas are.

 

 

 

This would be the forward mess area, where the crew would cram in 100 at a time for inspection out of the weather, and to be briefed on missions.  The ladder leads to the upper deck, and the steel bulkheads hold maps, charts, and dogged hatches.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/80th  15mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

This would be the forward mess area, where the crew would cram in 100 at a time for inspection out of the weather, and to be briefed on missions.  The ladder leads to the upper deck, and the steel bulkheads hold maps, charts, and dogged hatches.

 

 

 

Once quarters were over the offers would probably gather at this table for tea and show.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/25th  15mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

 

Once quarters were over the offers would probably gather at this table for tea and show.

 

 

 

I could almost think this was the quarterdeck and not the officers mess, but once a ship has been decommissioned and ‘decorated’ it’s hard to tell.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/60th  16mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

I could almost think this was the quarterdeck and not the officers mess, but once a ship has been decommissioned and ‘decorated’ it’s hard to tell.

 

 

 

 

Down this ladder were the enlisted crews quarters, nothing more than 100 hammocks strung wherever, other such spaces were ammo bunkers.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/50th  12mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

 

Down this ladder were the enlisted crews quarters, nothing more than 100 hammocks strung wherever, other such spaces were ammo bunkers.

 

 

 

 

You can picture a crew member coming up from the berthing area below.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/4th  12mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

You can picture a crew member coming up from the berthing area below.

 

 

 

 

Once I could set and brace I could bring the camera down to ISO 800 for a more clear detailed picture of the quarterdeck area.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/80th  12mm ISO 3200

 

 

 

Once I could set and brace I could bring the camera down to ISO 800 for a more clear detailed picture of the quarterdeck area.

 

 

 

 

One washer for 139 men.  I’d guess the enlisted men hand scrubbed their laundry in buckets.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/13th  12mm ISO 800

 

 

 

One washer for 170 men.  I’d guess the enlisted men hand scrubbed their laundry in buckets.

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to find fault with the view.  Beautiful skies, calm waters, but it felt strange being on the deck of a ship and seeing grass all around me.  It just didn’t feel natural at all!

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/5th  16mm ISO 800

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to find fault with the view.  Beautiful skies, calm waters, but it felt strange being on the deck of a ship and seeing grass all around me.  It just didn’t feel natural at all!

 

 

 

 

One last look into the gallery.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F5.6  1/80th  24mm ISO 125

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One last look into the galley.

 

There was a nice restaurant area where the old vets brought their families for lunch and other small exhibits to share with the family.  For sure its worth a visit and gives you a glimpse into what SEA forces were forced to ensure in the defense of their countries.