HTMS Chakri Naruebet is the flagship of the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), and Thailand's first and only aircraft carrier. Based on the Spanish Navy's Principe de Asturias design and constructed by Spanish shipbuilder Bazán, Chakri Naruebet was ordered in 1992, launched in 1996, and commissioned into the RTN in 1997.
The aircraft carrier is designed to operate an air group of V/STOL fighter aircraft and helicopters, and is fitted with a ski-jump. Initial intentions were to operate a mixed air group of Matador V/STOL aircraft and S-70B Seahawk helicopters. However, by 1999, only one Matador was operational, and the entire V/STOL fleet was removed from service in 2006. Although Chakri Naruebet was intended for patrols and force projection in Thai waters, a lack of funding brought on by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis meant the carrier has spent much of her career docked at the Sattahip naval base.
Chakri Naruebet has been deployed on several disaster relief operations, including in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and in response to separate flooding incidents in late 2010 and early 2011. Other than disaster relief, the carrier's few other departures from port are for a single training day per month, and transportation of the Royal Family of Thailand, leading to claims by some naval commentators that the ship is merely an oversized royal yacht.