Myanmar Navy

Myanmar Navy
Active24 December 1947 – present
Country Myanmar
Size19,000 personnel
Part ofMyanmar Armed Forces
Nickname(s)Tatmadaw Yay
Minister of DefenceLieutenant General Sein Win
Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar Armed ForcesSenior General Min Aung Hlaing
Commander-in-Chief (Navy)Adm. Tin Aung San
Chief of StaffVice Adm. Moe Aung
EnsignNaval Ensign of Myanmar.svg

The Myanmar Navy (Burmese: တပ်မတော် (ရေ); [taʔmədɔ̀ jè]) is the naval warfare branch of the armed forces of Myanmar. With 19,000 personnel on duty, the navy operates more than 125 vessels. Prior to 1988, the navy was small, and its role in counter-insurgency operations was smaller than those of the army and the air force. The navy has since been expanded to take on a more active role in defense of Myanmar's territorial waters.



A Myanmar war boat in 1795

The naval arm of the Royal Armed Forces consisted mainly of shallow draft river boats. Its primary missions were to control the Irrawaddy River, and to protect the ships carrying the army to the front. The major war boats carried up to 30 musketeers and were armed with 6- or 12-pounder cannon.[1] By the mid-18th century, the navy had acquired a few seafaring ships, manned by European and foreign sailors, that were used to transport the troops in Siamese and Arakanese campaigns.

The Arakanese and the Mon, from maritime regions, maintained more seaworthy flotillas than the inland riverborne "navy" of the Royal Burmese Army.

Founding and the Second World War

The Myanmar Navy was formed as the Navy of Burma in 1940 and, although very small, played an active part in Allied operations against the Japanese during the Second World War.

Burmese independence

In December 1947, the Union of Burma Navy was formed with 700 men. The fleet initially consisted of a small but diverse collection of ships transferred from the Royal Navy under the arrangements made for Burma's independence in January 1948. It included the UBS Mayu, an ex-Royal Navy River-class frigate, and four Landing Craft Gun (Medium). Armed with two 25-pounder (88 mm) guns and two 2-pounder (44 mm) guns, these landing craft were used as support gunboats.[2]


In 1950 and 1951, the United States provided 10 coast guard cutters (CGC) under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP). The Myanmar Navy played an important part in the government's fight against the ethnic and ideological insurgent groups which threatened the Union Government in its early days. The Myanmar Navy performed both defensive and offensive roles, protecting convoys, carrying supplies, ferrying troops and giving much-needed fire support. It was instrumental in relieving the port city of Moulmein, which was captured by Karen insurgents in 1948, and the Irrawaddy Delta town of Bassein. Although one armed patrol boat defected to the Karen insurgents, throughout the turbulent years of post independence in Myanmar, the navy was largely unopposed and maintained control over Myanmar's crucial inland waterways.[3]

In 1956 and 1957, the Myanmar government acquired five 50-long-ton (51 t) Saunders-Roe Dark-class convertible motor torpedo/motor gunboats,[4] followed by an 1,040-long-ton (1,060 t) Algerine-class minesweeper in 1958 from the United Kingdom.[5] In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States sold the Myanmar Navy six PGM type coastal patrol craft and seven CGC-type patrol boats.[6] In 1958, Myanmar's Navy took delivery of 10 Y-301-class river gunboats from Yugoslavia, followed by 25 smaller Michao-class patrol craft.


Myanmar Navy visiting Indonesia in 1960

Efforts were made to produce locally made naval vessels with assistance from Yugoslavia. In 1960, the Myanmar Navy commissioned two 400-long-ton (410 t) Nawarat-class corvettes. Their armaments include 25-pounder field gun and 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun.[7] Myanmar shipyards also built a number of smaller patrol craft and a number of landing craft. Landing craft and auxiliary ships are usually armed with Oerlikon 20 mm cannons, 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns and heavy machine guns.[8] In the mid-1960s, the Myanmar Navy took delivery of ex-US Navy 640-long-ton (650 t) PCE-827 class[9] corvette and a 650-long-ton (660 t) Admirable-class minesweeper, both of which were commissioned in the mid-1940s.


Although the Myanmar Navy expanded rapidly during the 1950s and 1960s, the navy was unable to keep pace with loss or deterioration of older vessels in the 1970s. In 1978, the United States provided the Myanmar Navy with six small river patrol craft.[10]. A naval replacement program was initiated by BSPP Government in 1979.


In 1980, the Myanmar Navy acquired six Carpentaria-class inshore patrol boats from Australia followed by three 128-ton Swift-type coastal patrol boats from Singapore and three 385-ton Ospery-class offshore patrol vessels built in Denmark. The Ospery and Swift-class boats have a range of 4,500 and 1,800 miles (7,200 and 2,900 km), respectively, and were armed with Oerlikon 20 mm cannons and 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns. In the early years of the 1980s, Myanmar shipyards built three 128-ton PGM type patrol boats based upon US PGM-class patrol boats. Each boat was armed with two 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns and two 12.7 mm heavy machine guns.


The Myanmar Navy purchased six missile escort boats and 10 submarine chasers from China. Since 1998, the navy has built two 77 m (252 ft 7 in) Anawrahta-class corvettes (771 and 772) and four fast attack craft (551-554).


May 2008 Cyclone Nargis

As many as 25 Burmese naval ships may have been sunk in the storm caused by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, while an unknown number of naval personnel and their family members were killed or are listed as missing.[11] The Network for Democracy and Development in Thailand reported that 30 officers and 250 Burmese naval personnel were declared missing, while 25 vessels were destroyed by the cyclone in three naval regional command centres: Panmawaddy Regional Command on Hainggyi Island; Irrawaddy Regional Command; and Danyawaddy Regional Command in Sittwe in Arakan State.


Myanmar Navy officers tour USS Bonhomme Richard

As part of international engagement of the US with the Myanmar's armed forces, the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) visited Myanmar in early 2013.[12]

The Myanmar Navy has held its annual 'Sea Shield' combined fleet exercise in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea since 2014. The annual manoeuvres usually involve live-fire exercises by several of the Myanmar Navy's strategic vessels.[13] In 2017, Myanmar's Deputy Defence Minister announced the Myanmar Navy's ambition to acquire a submarine.[14]

When it comes to international navy exercise, Myanmar Navy participated in Indian and Myanmar Navy Exercise 2018, which was held in the Bay of Bengal. On the Myanmar side, vessels included the Kyan Sittha-class frigate UMS Sin Phyu Shin (F-14) and offshore patrol vessel UMS Inle and on the Indian side, vessels included anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kamorta, Shivalik (Project 17)-class frigate INS Sahyadri, and a Type 877EKM Kilo-class submarine, along with one helicopter and two advanced aircraft.[15] In September 2019, Myanmar Navy's UMS Kyan Sittha participated in the first US-Asean Maritime Exercise (AUMX) to improve disaster management and maritime cooperation in the region.[16]

The Myanmar Navy have had better relationships with Navies in the region in the 2010s than in the previous decades. To promote goodwill between navies, the Myanmar Navy played host to many Navies from the region such as Royal Australian Navy, PLA Navy and Indian Navy.[17][18][19] Likewise, Myanmar naval vessels have made their historic diplomatic visit to a number of countries in the region including Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.[20][21]

Former and current commanders-in-chief since independence

  • 1. Commander Khin Maung Bo
  • 2. Commodore Than Pe BN-1001
  • 3. Commodore Thaung Tin BN-1027
  • 4. Rear-Adm. Chit Hlaing BN-3011
  • 5. Rear-Adm. Maung Maung Win BN-3021
  • 6. Vice-Adm. Maung Maung Khin BN-1038
  • 7. Vice-Adm. Than Nyunt
  • 8. Vice-Adm. Tin Aye
  • 9. Vice-Adm. Nyunt Thein BN-1087 DSA 3
  • 10. Vice-Adm. Kyi Min BN-1107 DSA 6
  • 11. Vice-Adm. Soe Thein BN-1181 DSA 11
  • 12. Adm. Nyan Tun DSA 16
  • 13. Adm. Thura Thet Swe DSA 22
  • 14. Adm. Tin Aung San[22] DSA23
    Thura Thet Swe, Vice Admiral of Myanmar Navy meeting with Indian Navy's Admiral D.K. Joshi in 2013
Myanmar Navy Frigate F14

Commanders of Naval Region Command

A navy exercise at Coco Islands
Naval Region Command Commanding Officer
Irrawaddy Naval Region Command Comodore Htein Win
Danyawaddy Regional Command Captain Aye Min Htwe
Panmawaddy Regional Command Comodore Kyaw Shwe Htun
Mawyawaddy Regional Command Commodore Naing Min Kyaw
Tanintharyi Regional Command Commodore Zwe Win Myint
Naval Training Command Rear Admiral Htay Naing
Naval Dockyard Headquarters Rear-Adm. Thant Sin Lay
1st Fleet (Yangon) Captain Tet Lwin Htun
2nd Fleet (Heinzae) Captain Thein Htoo
3rd Fleet (Kyut Phyu) Captain Tin Maung Than
4th Fleet (Haing Gyi) Captain Maung Maung Thant


Administrative and support units

  • Naval headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Naypyidaw)
  • Strategic Naval Command (headquarters in Naypyidaw)
  • Naval Training Command ()
  • Naval Shipyard Headquarters (Yangon)
  • Central Naval Hydrographic Depot (Yangon)
  • Central Naval Diving and Salvage Depot (Yangon)
  • Central Naval Engineering Depot (Botataung, Yangon)
  • Central Naval Stores Depot (Yangon)
  • Central Naval Communications Depot (Yangon)
  • Central Naval Armaments Deport (Seikkyi)

Naval regional commands and bases

  • Irrawaddy Regional Command (headquarters in Yangon)
    • Thanhklyet Soon Naval Base
    • Bassein Naval Base
    • Coco Island Base (Naval Radar Unit)
  • Danyawaddy Regional Command (headquarters in Sittwe)
    • Kyaukpyu Naval Base
    • Thandwe (Sandoway) Naval Base
  • Panmawaddy Regional Command (headquarters on Haigyi Island)
  • Mawyawaddy Regional Command (headquarters in Mawlamyine)
  • Tanintharyi Regional Command (headquarters in Myeik)
    • Zadetkyi Island Naval Base
    • Mali (Tavoy) Naval Base
    • Palai Island Naval Base
    • Kadan Naval Base
    • Sakanthit Naval Base
    • Lambi Naval Base
    • Pearl Island Naval Base
    • Zadetkale Naval Base (Radar Unit)

Naval infantry

The Myanmar Navy formed a naval infantry battalion of 800 men in 1964, and a second battalion in 1967. Third and fourth battalions may have also been raised. They battalions traditionally are deployed mainly in the Arakan, Tenasserim, and Irrawaddy delta coastal regions primarily to assist in the army's counter-insurgency operations (COIN).

Navy SEALs

The Myanmar Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Teams, commonly known as (Burmese: တပ်မတော် (ရေ) အထူးစစ်ဆင်ရေးတပ်ဖွဲ့) were probably formed in the early 2010s. The Myanmar Navy SEALs are particularly trained for special operation missions such as Hostage rescue, Counter-terrorism and Counter narcotic operations.The selection process and training curriculum is claimed be similar to United States Navy SEAL selection and training.[23][24][25]

Naval base air defence force

Previously, Myanmar Naval air defence forces used Bofors 40mm & ZPU-2 AAA for naval bases.

Rank structure


Modernisation program

The Myanmar Navy is undergoing swift modernisation and expansion. It is gaining larger and more advanced ships of various design, notably constructing them locally with foreign supplied equipment.[26]


Russian made Kh-35E anti-ship missile

The Myanmar Navy started its modernisation program in 2001 in an attempt to replace older ships and equipment. In 2012, the navy took delivery of two Type 053H1-class frigates from China. These two ships were upgraded extensively. Upgrades included the replacing of HY 2 anti-ship missiles by C-802 missiles and installing new sensors. The first indigenous frigate, the Aung Zeya entered service in 2011 and took part in a joint exercise with Indian Navy ships off Visakhapatnam in early 2013. A second ship, Kyan Sittha entered service in 2012 and is the navy's first stealth frigate. The navy plans to build six indigenous frigates; combining Russian, Indian, Chinese, and Western weapons systems. These ships are equipped with Kh-35E anti-ship missiles, OTO Melara 76 mm Super Rapid Cannons, AK-630 6-barrel 30mm close-in weapon system (CIWS) and Chinese ASW rockets and torpedoes. Radars and electronic systems are mainly from Bharat Electronics of India. Myanmar acquired surface-to-air missiles and anti-ship missiles from China for its newly built frigates and OPVs. Myanmar Navy Shipyard which was acquired from China in the late 1990s is one of the most modern shipyards in the region. Many Myanmar naval engineers underwent shipbuilding training in China and Russia.

Corvettes and Fast Attack Craft

In early 2011, two corvettes, 771 and 772, were upgraded to by installing C-802 missiles, SAMs, sonar, RBU 1200 ASW rockets, and new surface and air search radars. The most significant development was the launching of two new FAC (stealth) (pennant number P 491) which is 49 metres long and armed with 4 × C-802 missiles and a single AK 630 CIWS.

Twenty 45-metre class FACs (guns and missiles) are the backbone of the navy, but these ships are too small for new weapons and electronic systems. This is the main reason for initiating the 49-metre class FAC (stealth). Older Hainan class FAC (submarine chaser) will be degraded to Category B reserve by 2016.

A senior Myanmar Navy official meeting with his South Korean counterpart in South Korea, October 2015


India is set to hand over Myanmar its first-ever submarine, a Kilo-class boat, likely to be sent across the year 2019 after being refitted indigenously. The Kilo-class submarine—INS Sindhuvir—bought from Russia in the 1980s, is currently being modernised by the Hindustan Shipyard Limited HSL in Vizag, with sources saying that work is likely to be completed before the end of this year. The submarine will be used by the Myanmar Navy for training purposes.[27] The procurement of Indian submarine is said to be India's Act East Policy to counter Chinese military influence in the Bay of Bengal.[28]


Between 2015 and 2017, the Myanmar Navy procured a couple of Super Dvora Mk III patrol boats from Israel.[29] Next, under a US$37.9 million deal signed in March 2017, the Myanmar Navy received the advanced anti-submarine torpedo Shyena units from India.[30] Moreover, the Myanmar Navy is believed to have acquired a new landing platform dock (LPD) from South Korea in 2019.[31]

See also


  1. ^ Lieberman, pp. 164–167
  2. ^ p.28, Janes Fighting Ships 1963-64
  3. ^ Hugh Tinker, Union of Burma, p.325
  4. ^ "British Military Powerboat Trust". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  5. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships 1963-1964 p.28
  6. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships 1982-83 p.60
  7. ^ Janes Fighting Ships 1997-98 p.79
  8. ^ Janes Fighting Ships 1997-98 p.82
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships 1997-1998 p.79
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "The evolving role of the Navy". Archived from the original on 26 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Myanmar Navy holds exercise in strategic waters". Archived from the original on 25 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Burma Army Reveals Ambition to Own Submarine". Archived from the original on 26 December 2018.
  15. ^ "What's Behind the New India-Myanmar Naval Exercise?". Archived from the original on 26 December 2018.
  16. ^ Limited, Bangkok Post Public Company. "First US-Asean naval exercise begins". Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  17. ^ Navy, Royal Australian. "Patrol Boat crew reflects on a memorable visit to Myanmar". Navy Daily. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Vietnamese vessel visits Myanmar".
  19. ^ "Indian Naval Ship Sumitra visited Yangon, Myanmar | Indian Navy". Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Burmese Navy in Historic Visit to Vietnam". Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Myanmar navy ships return to Thailand". Bangkok Post. 2013.
  22. ^ "45 Senior Military Officers Retire to Contest Nov. 8 Poll". The Irrawaddy. 11 August 2015. Archived from the original on 15 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  23. ^ "တပ်မတော်(ကြည်း၊ ရေ၊ လေ)ပူးပေါင်းစစ်ဆင်ရေးလေ့ကျင့်ခန်း(ဆင်ဖြူရှင်) ဒုတိယပိုင်း လေ့ကျင့်ဆောင်ရွက်".
  24. ^ Myanmar Navy Documentary, retrieved 12 October 2019
  25. ^ "Myanmar navy conducts military exercise in Bay of Bengal - Xinhua |". Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Modernization of the Myanmar Navy". Archived from the original on 29 December 2018.
  27. ^ Pubby, Manu (30 July 2019). "Taking it to next level, India readies submarine for Myanmar". The Economic Times. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  28. ^ "Kilo Impact in the Bay of Bengal". Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  29. ^ "Report: Myanmar Acquired Super Dvora Mk 3 Boats from IAI | Israel Defense". Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  30. ^ "The five-domains update". The Strategist. 23 July 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  31. ^ "South Korean shipyard launches landing platform dock for Myanmar Navy | Jane's 360". Retrieved 2 October 2019.

External links