Ream Naval Base
Ream Naval Base is a facility operated by the Royal Cambodian Navy on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand in the province of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The base, which covers approximately 190 acres, is located on a peninsula just southeast of the provincial capital, Krong Preah Sihanouk. Since 2010 the base has been the site of annual joint Cambodian-United States training and naval exercises under the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) program.
With the concentration on ground fighting during the Cambodian Civil War, the government's navy was neglected. At the time of the coup that placed Lon Nol in charge of the government in 1970, the Ream Naval Base was in a very run-down state with one pier in horrible condition, no effective logistical support system and very little internal repair capability. By 1974, Lon Nol's government and the Khmer National Navy (MNK) had vastly improved the base by implementation of a number of actions: procurement of 20 newly constructed radar equipped PCFs (Swift Boats); stationing of four PBRs (River Patrol Boats) in the Kompong Som (Sihanoukville) port area; overhauls of all of the heavy craft in inventory; procurement of a newly overhauled floating drydock the base; substantial upgrade of the Ream Repair Facility equipment; installation of an effective supply support system; and the completion of a modern pier facility and support complex for the base. This newly remodeled and refitted base allowed the Khmer National Navy to effectively assume the patrol and surveillance of the Cambodian coastline which had previously been outsourced to the South Vietnamese Navy (VNN) by the fledgling Khmer Republic. Further plans for an electricity generation plant and procurement of larger, better armed patrol craft were not completed before the fall of the Republic to the Khmer Rouge in 1975.
Since the ouster of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 and the eventual establishment of the current constitutional monarchy, the government in cooperation with its allies has made the facility a relatively modernized naval base currently commanded by Rear Admiral Ouk Seyha, the deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Navy.
In July 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Chinese PLA navy had secretly secured exclusive access to about one-third of the base for up to 30 years, giving Beijing a new southern flank on the South China Sea, and only its second overseas naval foothold, after a base in Djibouti opened in 2017. Such hosting of foreign armed forces would be against the Cambodian constitution, and the report was denied by Cambodian authorities, although not by Chinese ones.
- Deal for Naval Outpost in Cambodia Furthers China’s Quest for Military Network, Wall Street Journal, 22 July 2019
- Cambodia Navy - History at GlobalSecurity.org, Accessed 24 Nov 2013
- "Australia continues defence cooperation with Cambodia". Phnom Penh Post. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Post Media Co Ltd. 26 Jan 2012. Retrieved 24 Nov 2013.
- Cambodia, China ink secret naval port deal: report, Asia Times, by David Hutt, 22 July 2019
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