''I believe it could have been a Rohingya boat or a large fishing boat,'' Group Captain Somsak said today from Bangkok, where he is based.
''The positioning of the tsunami buoy is vital for tsunami warnings in the Indian Ocean region, especially Thailand and Indonesia.''
A vessel is to sail from Phuket's Cape Panwa on Monday with the aim of replacing the tsunami buoy with a new model. The buoy is positioned between Thailand and the Indian protectorate of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
''The buoy has to be precisely positioned so it can relate to a satellite to send data,'' Group Captain Somsak said. ''A large boat appears to have anchored on the buoy and dragged it out of position.
''Such movement would not occur naturally. It must have been a Rohingya vessel or a large fishing boat.''
The group captain said the information for the last tsunami warning on Phuket in April 2013 came from the buoy. But it had been moved out of position in August.
Rohingya, fleeing ethnic cleansing in Burma in larger numbers, are now being transported south on larger vessels capable of holding 500 to 700 people.
The big boats have never been reported to have been apprehended by officials off Thailand.
Human trafficking along Thailand's coast has become a popular industry because locals considered it more lucrative and less dangerous than dealing in drugs.
However, the larger boats now carry more Rohingya further out to sea. Instead of being dependent on the safe ''sailing season'' between monsoons, Rohingya are now being traded south from Burma to Malaysia all year round.