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   The History of the Marine Department
           Trade with foreign nations has been going on since Sukhothai was the capital of the Kingdom. Maritime trade was then supervised by “Chao Phasee” (custom officials) or border officials, also known as “Nai Kanom Talad”, working under the Krom Phra Klang whose responsibility include the supervision of berthing and the collection of tariffs from ships entering and departing the Kingdom.
old2               During the Ayutthaya periods maritime trading with foreign nations prospered and the Chao Phraya River became the main route for freighters from China and India. Freighters from Ayutthaya also sailed to neighboring countries. And later, trade with western countries started to develop.

            As an influx of western nations, starting with Spain, Holland, England, Denmark, and France opened up the market further for Ayutthaya. That time trading with foreign nations was under 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 custom tariff. The names “Chao Tha” and “Krom Tha” 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 Rattanakosin era, in the reign of King Mongkut (King Rama IV), the King allowed trade agreements to be altered at the request of the British government. Siam was requested to collect customs tariff upon arrival instead of continuing the practice of “jung-gorb” or port dues 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 Tha” or the Harbour Department.

            The Harbour Department or Krom Tha had to divide its duties into three divisions according to the increased responsibilities, namely: Krom Tha Sai or Harbour Department to the Left which were supervised traders coming from China, Khom Tha Khwa or Harbour Department to the Right which were supervised traders coming from Indian Ocean and Krom Tha Klang of Harbour Department to the Middle were in charge of traders from Europeans. The increased responsibilities made it necessary to reform the Department. To that end, there was the contract of employment signed between the Siamese and British governments on August 5th 1859. Captain John Bush, a British national, was appointed as Director General of the Harbour Department, commonly known as “Captain Bush” and sometimes by his Thai title “Phraya Wisuth Sakoradith (Thai: พระยาวิสูตรสาครดิฐ)”. And the day of August 5th became famous as the Harbour Department’s Founding Day.

             The Marine Department is under the Ministry of Transport. It is formerly known as Harbour Department which, by the Act on the Improvement of Ministries and Departments, B.E.2545 (2002) has incorporated maritime undertakings which used to belong to the former Office of the Maritime Promotion Commission. It is responsible for supervising, promoting and developing water transport system as well as to link other modes of transport in order to support the transport of passengers and cargoes, ports, shipyards, Thai fleet and enterprises concerned  and to ensure convenience, rapidity and safety for the people and also to support and to strengthen the export sector.

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