Philippine Coast Guard Ship Collides with Chinese Vessel in South China Sea

Images published by the Philippine Coast Guard purportedly show a collision between one of its ships and a China Coast Guard vessel during a resupply mission in the South China Sea.  AFP Photo
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MANILA, Philippines: In a recent incident in the South China Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported that one of its ships sustained minor structural damage during a collision with a China Coast Guard vessel. The collision occurred during a rotation and resupply (RoRe) mission.

According to PCG Commodore Jay Tarriela, the collision was a result of the Chinese coast guard and other vessels engaging in dangerous maneuvers and blocking. The Philippine vessel involved in the collision was the BRP Sindangan, one of two PCG ships escorting the mission.

Tarriela condemned the “reckless and illegal actions” of the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) 21555, which caused the collision and resulted in minor damage to the PCG vessel. Despite the incident, the RoRe mission is still ongoing at the time of this report.

This incident took place in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, where Philippine vessels were delivering supplies to Filipino troops stationed on board the BRP Sierra Madre. However, they encountered a blockade by more than a dozen Chinese maritime militia vessels.

Col. Ray Powell, speaking about the situation, stated that at least 15 Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels, visible on automatic identification systems (AIS), had established blockade positions and appeared ready to contest the arrival of the Philippine ships. Powell also mentioned the likelihood of other CMM ships, including China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels, in the vicinity of Ayungin, but running “AIS-dark.”

As the RoRe mission approached Ayungin, around 13 to 16 nautical miles away, the BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan, along with two civilian contracted ships, the Unaiza May 1 and 4, were shadowed by four Qiong Sansha Yu militia ships each. At one point, the BRP Sindangan seemed to be closely engaged with the CMM ship Qiong Sansha Yu 00116.

Subsequently, the two PCG ships were “swarmed” by 10 CMM ships, while another group clustered around 8.5 nautical miles from the shoal, indicating that one or both resupply boats were surrounded. Col. Powell described the mission as being “very aggressively contested by China,” a fact supported by multiple unofficial reports.

This incident highlights the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea and the challenges faced by the Philippine Coast Guard in carrying out its missions. The collision and the aggressive actions of the Chinese Coast Guard raise concerns about the safety and security of maritime operations in the region.

It is crucial for all parties involved to exercise restraint, adhere to international maritime laws, and engage in peaceful dialogue to prevent further escalations. The South China Sea dispute requires a diplomatic resolution that respects the rights and interests of all countries in the region.

As the situation evolves, it is essential for international observers and organizations to closely monitor developments and encourage peaceful resolutions to avoid any potential conflicts that could impact regional stability.

Source: The Manila Times

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