Samet Ngam Shipyard is approximately 11 kilometres far from Mueang District of Chanthaburi province. The area was assumed to be firstly used by King Taksin of Thonburi as a shipyard to prepare vehicles for the battle against Burmese Army in 2310 B.E. According to Chanthanumat of the royal chronicle of Thonburi, King Taksin had 100 ships built in Chanthaburi before moving the troops to battle against Burma.
Moreover, numerous stumps of Iron Wood trees were found at the nearby Samet Ngam temple. Additionally, hearsay has it that there was a man-made canal for transporting the timbers to the dock. Therefore, this area is assumed to be used as a shipyard of King Taksin before various ships had been found.
Not far from Chanthaburi estuary, an ancient bark during King Taksin era was found in the most perfect condition compared to others discovered in Gulf of Thailand. Antique digger boat, which was the important evidence indicating that this area was an old marine commercial center, was also found. It is later assumed that this area is one of important shipyards of Thailand.
According to archaeological evidence exploring the first shipyard for the first time during 2524 to 2525 by Underwater Archaeology Section, Archaeology of Fine Arts Department, wreckage of rear-cut bark was found, by the method of excavation and pumping water out of the embankment, at the shipyard of King Taksin. It was assumed that the ship was a small Fu Xian-style bark of China. The junk consisting of three sails and a rudder was 7-8 metres in width and 24 metres in length. Afterwards, the second exploration was taken place in April of 2532. The process used in this exploration was the same as being used in the first time. The discovered ship submerged approximately 1.5-2.9 metres in the soil. After getting rid of the mud, officers set up an automatic sprinkler in order to maintain humidity around keels of the ship and to prevent distortion and deterioration of the timber. Nowadays, buildings with roofs are built to cover the ruined ship.
Around the ship, there are various rectangle-shaped basins, which are similar to shipyards, along the coast. Samet Ngam ship is a rear-cut bark being built with steel nails. Timbers used to compose structures of the ship are softwoods in Gymnospermae (Pines Family), indicating that Samet Ngam is a Chinese bark which has similar features as Fu Xian junk. According to Professor Pierre-Yves Mojang’s interview in 2532, by excavating to examine the rear of the bark, several sizes of timbers had signs of being barked and were in a proper state to maintain the ship onto the beam for repairing. Therefore, this bark was certainly left on the beam in the dry dock.
Moreover, scraps of containers, hemp ropes, steel axes and low-quality Chinese crockery were discovered in the same area. Consequently, this bark was believed to be created in China, using as a vehicle for commerce in provinces along the Gulf of Thailand during the 23rd and the 24th centuries B.E. Besides, 3-4 ancient digger boats were also discovered at the inmost of the river. These ancient boats were made of Iron Wood trees. At present, they have been kept in a building near the place where Samet Ngam bark was found.
Interesting things inside King Taksin Shipyard are :
–King Taksin the Great memorial that townspeople in Samet Ngam had it built in order to pay homage to King Taksin of Thonburi
–Ancient shipyard in the building where nowadays opens to all visitors -Local museum of King Taksin shipyard where permanent exhibition about biography and royal duties of King Taksin the Great including history, archaeological evolution of Chantaburi province, techniques about shipbuilding, pottery creating, ship model creating and ancient equipment is held.
–Buildings for displaying large-sized barks and local exhibitions -Buildings for demonstration and selling Ban Samet Ngam’s local products
–Harbor for displaying decommissioned warships Visitors can use personal cars taking Tha-Chalaep, the same route to Samet Ngam village, heading from Mueang District to Tha-Chalaep harbor. One kilometer before leaving Mueang District, there are the crossroads where you have to turn left. You will then pass Chanthaburi Technical College and Ko Tanot temple. Three kilometer onwards, you have to turn right, using Yothatikan road. It then takes six kilometres to the end of road where you will find King Taksin Shipyard by the riverside.
Samet Ngam Shipyard
Location: Nong Bua, Mueang Chanthaburi, Chanthaburi 15140 Thailand