Trade with foreign nations has been going on since Sukhothai was the capital of the kingdom. Maritime trade
then supervised by "Chao Phasee" (customs
officials) or border officials, also known as "Nai
working under the Royal Treasury whose responsibility included the supervision of berthing and the collection of tariffs
from ships entering and departing the kingdom.
During the Ayuttaya period maritime trading with foreign nations prospered and the Chao Phraya river became the
main route for freighters from China and India. Freighters from Ayuttaya also sailed to neighboring countries, and later,
trade with western countries started to develop.
The influx of western nations, starting with Spain, Holland, England, Denmark, and France opened up the market
further for Ayuttaya. At that time trading with foreign nations was under the responsibility of the Treasury Department
which was government-run so as to monopolize trading of various prohibited goods. Its responsibility also included the
collection of tariffs from foreign freighters, merchandise excise, and customs tariff. The names "Chao Ta" and "Krom Ta"
were coined during the reign of King Narai the Great, a time when maritime trading with foreign nations was at its highest.
At the dawn of the Rattanakosin era, in the reign of King Rama IV, the King allowed trade agreements to be altered
at the request of the British government. Siam was requested to collect customes tariff upon arrival instead of continuing
the practice of "jung-gorb" or port dues and to allow direct trading with private citizens without having to go through the
Treasury Department. Following the British precedence, other foreign countries then requested similar alterations to
the trade agreements. As a result, these changes increased the work load of "Krom Ta" or the Harbour Department.
The Harbour Department or Krom Ta had to divide its duties into three divisions according to the increased
responsibilities. The Central Harbour Department took care of European nations while the "Left-Side" Harbour Department
oversaw trade with China, and the "Right-Side" Harbour Department oversaw trade with India. The increased
responsibilities made it necessary to reform the Department. To that end, Captain John Bush, a British national, was
appointed Director General of the Harbour Department, and August 5th 1859 became the Harbour Department's
Founding Day. Over the past 140 years, the Harbour Department has undertaken many developments and reforms
so as to adapt to situations in the ever-changing times.
The government's policy to reform and improve the civil service system in 2002 saw the beginning of crucial
changes in the Harbour Department. With the restructuring came new regulations and new working procedures including
the transfer of work on maritime promotion of the Office of the Office of the Maritime Promotion Commission (OMPC)
to the Harbour Department. The name was therefore changed to "Marine Department", under The Ministry of Transport.
To keep up with the country's economic and social development, the Marine Department's tasks are to keep up with the
development of the country and the needs of the people. This is especially so in the promotion of waterway transport
system development and maritime trading in order to get connected with other means of transport including the
transportation of people and freight. Ship building, the development of port and Thai merchant fleets and various related
activities are being promoted so as to provide convenience, safety, and prompt service. The Department also supports
Thailand's export sector to grow in strength, increasing its potential and competitiveness in the world market.
To achieve its crucial mission and targets, the Marine Department must have a well-oiled mechanism. This
mechanism comprises several units within the organization, namely:
Office of the Secretary,
Ship Standard Bureau,
Ship Registration Division,
Technical and Planning Division,
International Affairs Division,
Merchant Marine Training Centre,
Marine Safety and Environment Bureau,
Channel Development and Maintenance Bureau, which comprises 8 development and maintenance centers in
every region of the country. Besides these, there are Maritime Promotion Bureau, Survey and Engineering Bureau and
Marine Offices 1-7, along with 40 branches nationwide.
Every part of the mechanism must work together in harmony to achieve its mission. The Department's vision is to
develop water transport to achieve convenience, rapidity, safety and efficiency. The environment must be well-managed
and water transport routes and connections need to be suitable. This will help increase the potential in trade
competitiveness and services, which will eventually lead to the improvement of the people's quality of life.
The Department's vision and mission, as a result, follow the mainstream development of the country. The Department
has therefore divided its mission into 4 main areas:
Regarding water transport, the Department has responsibility to:
- Dredge and maintain the condition of waterways to facilitate transport of goods, passengers and promote tourism.
- Build river and canal bank protection and also coastline protection against erosion.
- Oversee ship inspection and registration.
- Control domestic and international waterway traffic to ensure convenience as well as safety.
- Issue permission to construct ports and oversee the management of ports regarding transport of goods,
passengers and services related to tourism.
- Develop and oversee the pilotage within the port limits to ensure order and safety of navigation.
Regarding maritime trading, the Department has responsibility to :
- Promote the transport of goods by sea to ensure safety, economy and operation cost reduction.
- Promote businesses related to maritime industry i.e. port operation, ship building and sea transport services
so as to achieve the highest efficiency.
- Produce qualified human resources in the field of maritime trade, through the Merchant Marine Training Centre
as well as cooperating with government and private agencies such as Office of the Vocational Education Commission,
Department of Skill Development and private education institutions to develop maritime human resources.
Regarding the promotion of water tourism:
To promote water tourism on major rivers, and sea tourism, the Department has constructed ports and piers
at tourist attraction sites, as well as providing standardized services and safety standards.
The final main task is the protection of marine environment. The Department is in charge of the control of the
dumping of waste into rivers and seas, the encroachment of buildings over and along waterways, as well as the cleaning
of oil spillages. The Department is effectively tackling these problems and preventing adverse effects on the shore ecology.
In this regard, two anti-pollution ships whose mission is to clean up oil spillages "Densuddhi" and "Choltaranurak",
were lauched. They were named by His Majesty the King.
The Marine Department has striven to develop and improve its services, including the reduction of work procedures
as well as the provision of a one-stop service, to provide prompt and convenient service to cater the needs of the people
Over the past 140 years, the Harbour Department, or the Marine Department as it is known today, has been proud
to be entrusted with the responsibility of developing waterway transportation. As and integral part in the mechanism
which propels the country towards efficient department, officials of the Marine Department pledges to be provider of
quality service to the public, and benefits to the country. The Marine Department will continue to remain committed to
the department of the country and in the conservation of the country's water in the years to come.