Home » Foreign Forces » U.S. Military Team on Site to Assist in Rescue of Trapped Thai Soccer Team


U.S. Military Team on Site to Assist in Rescue of Trapped Thai Soccer Team

Photo provided by Thai Navy Seal shows trapped teenagers in a cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, on July 2, 2018. Twelve teenagers and their football coach, trapped in a cave in northern Thailand for nine days, have been found alive on Monday night, Narongsak Osottanakorn, governor of Chiang Rai province said.

U.S. military personnel are supporting an international effort to rescue 13 members of a Thai youth soccer team that became trapped in a cave complex when water levels quickly rose, defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday.

A British dive team found the 12 players and their coach on July 2, more than a week after they were declared missing, and the international search and rescue team is still considering options to get them out.

The search effort was led by the Thai military, including specially trained Royal Thai Navy SEAL divers, according to media reports. A team of specially-trained volunteer British cave divers found the soccer team Tuesday evening, Singapore-based Channel News Asia reported.

A team of more than 30 U.S. military personnel from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, including pararescue and survival specialists, arrived at the site late on Wednesday local time, NPR reported. Officials from INDOPACOM would not specify to USNI News which units were sent to assist Thai search and rescue efforts from Okinawa, but the U.S. Air Force’s 31st Rescue Squadron and 33rd Rescue Squadron are based at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

The boys and their coach were reported missing after practice on June 23. Family members suspected they entered the cave complex and were trapped by a sudden heavy rain, according to press reports.

“The American people join Thais in celebrating the dramatic discovery of the football team and their coach in Tham Luang cave,” U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn Davies said in a statement. “We will continue to support Thai authorities in their relentless efforts to bring the 12 players and their coach safely out of the cave and reunite them with their families and friends.‎”

Now that the soccer team has been found, the first priority was bringing them food and first aid. For nine days, the team has had little to eat, according to Channel News Asia reports.

The team is in a chamber nearly 1 1/4 miles from the cave entrance and about a half mile below the surface, according to a statement from the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC).

Two BCRC divers found the team. A team of divers, which was led by the Royal Thai Navy SEALs and also included Americans and Australians, ferried diving bottles and other supplies inside the cave complex to set up supply depots, according to the BCRC.

Rescue plans are still being developed. Rescue workers are trying to pump water out of the cave complex, and searchers are scouring the mountainous terrain to see if there are vents or other openings to use to reach the team, according to news reports.

Rescuers are considering training the teens to use SCUBA equipment – a risky option considering most of the boys do not know how to swim. Thai officials are also considering having the team wait until the rainy season ends and the water inside the cave complex recedes, likely in September or October, according to a BBC report.

  • muzzleloader

    As someone who has been an advanced scuba diver for 40 years, I cannot imagine what it would be like to take a child who cannot swim and outfit him with scuba gear and lead him under water for 1.5 miles in near zero visibility, while swimming through shoulder wide passages.
    It would take supreme coordination, along with teaching the kids basics such as breathing control, staying calm, and having absolute trust in the rescue divers who would be leading them out.
    The top rescue divers in the world are on the scene, and if anyone can pull this off, they can.

    • NavySubNuke

      Not an easy decision for anyone to make considering the kids won’t be able to walk out until September OR October!
      Though at least now those on site can get food, medicine, and other supplies to them.

      • TaraLou Patenaude

        they have them in pods- kinda like minisubmarines.4 already out

    • TomD

      One thing they need to do is get a surgical team together that is certified in cave diving, just in case.

  • .Hugo.

    this is not just a u.s. effort.
    .
    straitstimesDOTcom/asia/se-asia/thai-cave-rescue-british-divers-first-to-find-boys-among-massive-international-team
    .

    • RDF

      British cave divers found them. Cave diving with a non certified child for a distance of 2 miles in zero vis claustrophobic conditions is just a crazy idea. And it has to work without a hitch 12 Times. This is a tough one. Hard suit? One that fits through those tunnels? Good luck on this one.

      • eddie046

        Agreed! They stated it was so tight in areas they had to remove their tanks. Try doing that with a scared kid in zero visibility. There has to be another way.

        • RDF

          I am thinking sedate them and put them in a tiny hardsuit and haul them out. Can’t panic if you are sleeping.

          • TomD

            Yeah, I thought so too, but there are BIG risks that way, such as if the kid has a reaction to the drug while in a suit. eddie046 tells us that even a small hard suit might not be able to squeeze through.

          • muzzleloader

            Plus there is the sinus squeeze factor. Depending on the water depth, the kids would have to clear thier ears to compensate for the pressure against their eardrums, and you have to be awake to do that. Otherwise there could be serious ear and sinus injuries.
            You could avoid that in a hard hat, but the ultra confined spaces they would be swimming through could be very problematic if not insurmountable.

          • RDF

            Depth is not an issue. Just typical cave vis and obstructions. Looks like 3 underwater bits with dry in between. No good answers. Keep pumping

          • waveshaper1

            Yep, the deepest spot I have seen reported (yesterday/not sure how accurate this info is) was 5 meters. Most of the flooded sections of the tunnel seem to have enough room to keep your head above water.

          • RDF

            story coming out now was they were all sedated coming out. strapped to a diver except for one bit where they got shoved from behind and pulled from in front. Typical whacko cave diver stuff. I have a qual in that, and wreck but I stopped doing it.. back to nature stuff now like galapagos.

    • Fred Gould

      US is assisting an international effort. Recommend you reread.

      • .Hugo.

        i have read, that’s why i emphasized it’s an international effort but not just u.s. (plus british).
        .

    • Ctrot

      Thanks Captain Obvious, but we can read.

      • .Hugo.

        sure you can, that’s why i provided a better link with more facts. 🙂
        .

    • NavySubNuke

      Come on Hugo – the people forcing/playing you to comment on these articles expect you to at least read them. I realize you aren’t allowed to think for yourself but this is pathetic even by your standards.

      • .Hugo.

        come one navysubnuke, i know it really hurts when the true news was revealed. i am not even quoting a chinese source but your so-called “ally” singaporean. 🙂
        .
        “Two BCRC divers found the team. A team of divers, which was led by the Royal Thai Navy SEALs and also included Americans and Australians….”
        .
        just them? that’s how u.s. reporting works, and you called me being forced to comment…. 😀
        .

        • muzzleloader

          What is obvious, Chang, is your sense of inferiority since you feel the need to make sure that we all know that your country is “involved”.

          • .Hugo.

            that’s your interpretation only, when my intention is to show there are many more countries in this but not just the u.s.
            .
            maybe it’s the u.s. trying to win some hearts and minds instead or to gain some much needed good will publicity? 🙂
            .

          • TomD

            As I see it, the purpose of a pro-U.S. news article of this type is NOT to give Americans self-centered praise but rather to reassure Americans that their country is living up to its humanitarian ideals and obligations. There are a lot of Americans who would ask “Why aren’t we doing something? We should be doing something!” if a story like this did not appear.

            Also, this is pro-Navy site, so even American civilian team members are not mentioned.

            Regarding the full extent of the international coorperation is concerned, I think we all understand that the full story will not be known until it is all over.

          • .Hugo.

            yes, i am aware it’s pro navy, but i still believe the emphasis should not be just on the u.s.
            .

          • TomD

            We’ll get there, don’t worry.

          • muzzleloader

            Read the article again, wang.
            It says multi national effort. Can’t you Chinese read?

          • .Hugo.

            i have read it, and maybe your “international” means this only?
            .
            “Two BCRC divers found the team. A team of divers, which was led by the Royal Thai Navy SEALs and also included Americans and Australians….”
            .
            wow so much “international” effort there when there are more than just uk, BIG BIG US, and australia, haha….
            .

          • muzzleloader

            Wow. I think that you and your fellow Chinese have a little jealousy and insecurity going on, eh wang?

          • .Hugo.

            i can see maybe only your fellow americans have a little jealously as you have failed to steal the show this time? 😀
            .

        • NavySubNuke

          LOL. Awww poor hugo’s feelings (or the feelings of those who pay/force him to post more likely) are hurt because the article didn’t specifically mention that China is actually doing something helpful. Poor hugo’s feelings.
          ** Pat hugo on the head ** There you go Hugo, now run along and go spread your propaganda somewhere else.

          • .Hugo.

            all i am seeing is the arrogance inside the report when the u.s. is not even the major participant, but tries very hard to make the world know that it is there. 😀
            .
            maybe your head should be patted when you don’t usually see the u.s. has to do that? hehe….
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            “all I am seeing”
            LOL – it really is funny when you pretend you are allowed to think and post independently. No worries though Hugo, we all realize you are just a slave to what your masters pay/tell you to post.

          • .Hugo.

            lol, it’s really when you pretend you know how everyone outside of the u.s. think and post independently. no worries though navysubnuke, we all realize you are just a slave to your own social med!a coverage.
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL, now I am the slave — there you go projecting again. no worries hugo – I realize you have to write nonsense like this to stay alive.

          • .Hugo.

            it is not my concern for you being a slave, i am only seeing you just can’t refute sensibly, especially when true facts are involved — something not usually provided by your med!a. 😉

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL – the Chinese troll, who lives a life behind the great firewall being told what to think, is worried about whether or not the US media is true. I love it!!
            And Hugo we all realize the only reason you are posting is because the people who tell you what to think were upset this article didn’t specifically mention China’s assistance. I can understand them being upset since China has such a huge inferiority complex but no one really cares.

          • .Hugo.

            just don’t see how your so-called great firewall has affected my life. and when reading how the incident was reported by a u.s. med!a, i can certainly see how “truthful” it is.
            .
            by the way, the article i quoted was from a singapore med!a, which is also under heavy scrutiny. 😀
            .
            i am only using this article to point out the fact that u.s. med!a is misleading and only u.s. centric even in international issues.
            .
            and inferiority complex? nah…. maybe you can go back to live in the 1970s, then there could be some. 🙂
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            “ust don’t see how your so-called great firewall has affected my life”
            True – I imagine the walls of your prison have a much bigger impact on your daily life.
            “and when reading how the incident was reported by a u.s. med!a, i can certainly see how “truthful” it is”
            Yes, yes — we all realize how butt hurt you got when China wasn’t mentioned specifically. Considering how times China actually does something to benefit others rather than just being a bully and an international pariah I can see why your masters would want full recognition of their “help” in this
            “by the way, the article i quoted was from a singapore med!a, which is also under heavy scrutiny”
            Here your english is failing you – you didn’t actually quote anything — you just whined like a little baby and provided part of a link.
            “i am only using this article to point out the fact that u.s. med!a is misleading and only u.s. centric even in international issues.”
            LOL. Come on Hugo. Everyone knows what you were actually trying to do when your masters told you to post that. But thanks for the laugh.
            “and inferiority complex? nah…. maybe you can go back to live in the 1970s, then there could be some. :)”
            Certainly, that is why every Chinese citizen with enough money comes to the US to give birth to make sure their children are US citizens and can have a real future. No worries though Hugo – i realize your master’s won’t let you acknowledge that.

          • .Hugo.

            i don’t see how i am prisoned either when i can access just the same web info as you, plus the same content in chinese for a reasonable comparison. and i have already told you my conclusion earlier. 🙂
            .
            in fact, we all realize just how butt hurt you really are when the u.s. has to mention itself, considering how many times the u.s. does something to benefit others rather just being a bully and in world pariah lately. i can see why your ego has kicked in to get some recognition when it was not even the americans to find the boys or to treat them in the cave. 😀
            .
            and here your english has failed you, when you have failed to read my quote from the strait times. 🙂
            .
            and guess what? once the chinese children have become u.s. citizens, their parents are free to live in both china and the u.s. as they wish so they are ensure their children to have a real future when the u.s. can no longer promise them that, especially on the type of employment offered in their generation. we are already seeing such trend. i can see your med!a is not allowing you to see that. 🙂
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            “when i can access just the same web info as you”
            LOL – oh Hugo — if you only knew the truth….
            “in fact, we all realize just how butt hurt you really ”
            Neither I, nor anyone in the US, has any butt hurt about the situation in the slightest – you are the one here whining and begging for recognition.
            ” once the chinese children have become u.s. citizens, their parents are free to live in both china and the u.s.”
            No even true in the slightest —- the parents aren’t free to live here at all.The reason they are working so hard to make sure their children are US citizens is so that their children have the hope of a better future once China (once again) collapses.
            Nice attempt at putting a positive spin on it though 🙂

          • .Hugo.

            i may not know every truth but i won’t know any less than you. i can read from multiple sources and in different languages, don’t think you can. don’t tell me webpage translation counts. 🙂
            .
            and neither i, nor anyone in china, has any butt hurt about the situation. for chinese know they have done their part. it’s only funny that when the u.s. was not even the main force, you guys have to squeeze yourself into the show to look like one, hehe…..
            .
            let’s just face it, you have bad reporting, more explanations are simply excuses.
            .
            and “not even true in the slightest” about the chinese migrants only because you don’t know enough of them. and working so hard?? oh so your vision is only limited to the lower income class but not even the average middle income families and the higher income ones (which make up the majority these days), no wonder you have such poor conclusion. 🙂
            .
            and china collapses? haha they don’t even hope for that and are simply expecting the ccp to continue to maintain a stable environment so they can conduct business for a much longer time. 😀
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            No worries hugo — I realize you aren’t allowed to think for yourself or to acknowledge that the websites you are allowed to see are carefully censored to “protect” you from things the people who tell you what to think don’t want you to know.
            Don’t worry – soon enough the CCP will be overthrown and there is a chance (albiet a small one given how little initiative the Chinese people have) that what replaces it won’t be so repressive and violent. Who knows — you might even be able to watch things like Winnie the Pooh!

          • .Hugo.

            so far from what you have replied, i can see you have limited access to useful info. i just don’t see any substance in them. 🙂
            .
            may i know just what is “protected” from him so i don’t know? care to show just one example? 😀
            .
            we have seen governments came and go in chinese history, in fact that’s quite normal for a country with at least 4000 years of written history. the ccp has been the most successful government so far after the 1911 revolution to restore china to its past glory. as with repression and violence, we have seen quite a number of so-called “u.s. allies” practicing them in the past and even today, with a population far smaller than china which should be much easier to govern. 😛

          • NavySubNuke

            Are you still trying to find someone to pat you on the head and scratch behind your ears? Yikes, you guys really are desperate for attention.
            I already gave you one example of something your censors won’t allow you to see — Winnie the Pooh.
            There are plenty of others though I am sure those who tell you what to think won’t let you acknowledge them.

          • .Hugo.

            i just don’t see you can provide even one example to show that i know less than you. 🙂
            .
            winnie the pooh is just too old, have you checked the local chinese forums? 😀
            .
            and so where are your “plenty of others”? you are “sure”? should i say you are sure that you can’t find any? 😀
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            Sweetie, just google chinese censors hollywood and see all the movies and tv shows you aren’t allowed to watch – it really isn’t that hard assuming you can actually search for such things — your masters may not allow results for such a thing to be determined after all.

          • .Hugo.

            care to tell us which blockbusters were banned? or which tv shows too? my tv box is full of dramas and other programs fom the u.s., the u.k., france, spain, germany, japan, korea, taiwan, hong kong, and even thailand. so please, just tell me which show i have missed. but first please don’t tell me 50 shades of grey was a blockbuster. 😀
            .
            you have been saying the same thing over and over, but you just don’t have any solid evidence to support it.
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            Awww sweetie — were you not allowed to google it for yourself?
            Not surprising.
            Here are two: Deadpool and The Dark Knight.

          • .Hugo.

            sweetie here, sweetie there, yet always missing supporting facts, that’s you. 🙂
            .
            and let’s see why these 2 movies were banned:
            .
            .
            dark knight:
            “The film is after all about an American vigilante who illegally travels to China to kidnap a Chinese businessman with ties to mob money.”
            .
            also it has featured a s_x scandal actor — edison chen.
            .
            so why should china accept such story and actor? for me i just felt zzz and i could never finish seeing it. 🙂
            .
            deadpool:
            “Deadpool has been denied permission to screen in China due to its violence, nudity, and graphic language.”
            .
            sufficient explanation, i was not even interested in seeing it although it’s also in my tv box. 🙂
            .
            .
            and what else? i would love to explain why they’re banned from public screening, haha….

          • NavySubNuke

            Thank you for admitting you are only allowed to view those things your betters allow you to see.
            I could care less why those things are banned from — the entire point is that they are banned and that you only get to see those things that your betters want you to see. But go ahead and keep lying about how you can see more than anyone in the US can sweetie. I don’t mind.

          • .Hugo.

            “not allowed” when i said “not for public reviewing”? guess why i would fall asleep when seeing the dark knight then? 😀
            .
            the entire point is your mentioned movies did not meet the national guidelines, a california-based bank has a good summary on this:
            .
            eastwestbankDOTcom/ReachFurther/News/Article/Navigating-Restrictions-In-Chinas-Film-Industry
            .
            if those films could not meet the requirements then i don’t see what i have actually missed. 🙂
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            And your betters have ensured yo never will – just as they are busy keeping people from learning about the latest vaccine scandal. But keep pretending you can see whatever you like and the rest doesn’t matter hugo. We all realize you just say what you are told to say.

          • .Hugo.

            busy keeping people from learning the vaccine scandal when it was big news? oh sure…. 😀
            .
            this is just one of the links to the special report to keep everyone infomred:
            financeDOTsinaDOTcomDOTcn/zt_d/cssw/
            .
            i really have to doubt how close you have followed local chinese news before you post….. 🙂
            .

          • TaraLou Patenaude

            omg stfu

  • eddie046

    I just wonder if anyone has considered drilling an escape hole directly down from above to extract them?

    • TomD

      Apparently the cave is not surveyed well enough at present to do that, and as the article points out they are a half mile down. In the 2010 Copiapó mining accident it took the drill team 34 days to bore through four tenths of a mile, and they knew the mine well enough to get the direction right. Without an exact survey they would get only 3 to 4 tries before the water drains.

  • DaSaint

    Glad they’re ok! Tough situation. That’s an understatement really, but I hope and pray that they find a solution, first to prevent further rising water where they are, second to provision them with food, water, hygienic and medical supplies, and finally to find a way to get them out safely.

  • Alex F

    I have a idea … They can make the kids to use some sort of virtual reality glasses under the water. They could map the caves in sort of wire frame … That would take the kids the scary feeling sensation, will give them guidance, and will make the process better to rescue them. I know it sounds crazy but please think about it at least … Anyone remember the arcade game Asteroids ??? From Taito … 1982-84 #NYtimes #WAPO #ThailandSoccerTeam

    • RDF

      Underwater

  • RDF

    Elon musk suggested a nylon cylinder. Drag it in like a garden hose and then inflate it. Clever idea.

  • Renald Benoit

    Air compresse ligne make

    air pocket on cavity a good idea ?

  • Renald Benoit

    drilling let air out bad ideas ?

  • Renald Benoit

    compress air every ten feet with float to to maintain oxygen on pocket cavity to help rescue

  • ray Maurer

    It appears that most of these cave passages between the entrance and the children are free of water, or are only partially-submerged. I saw a map of about 5 hours ago – which I now cannot find – showing only 3 or 4 points where one would have to go completely under water – down, under and up – to reach the next open space. Odd that the experience retired Thai Seal died from lack of air. Perhaps before the pumping of the cave.

    • TaraLou Patenaude

      but how large are the submerged areas?

      • ray Maurer

        One site showed an artist conception “map” with relatively short underwater passages. Yet another notes the longest submerged area is about 30 meters long.