Filtered By: Topstories

PH supply vessel water cannoned by China Coast Guard, suffers 'heavy damage'

A Philippine vessel carrying supplies for Filipino troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre suffered "heavy" damage after receiving water cannon blasts from China Coast Guard (CCG) ships in its approach to Ayungin Shoal.

In a series of updates to the media, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported that as of 8:52 a.m., the Unaizah May 4 (UM4) "sustained heavy damage... due to the continued blasting of water cannons" from two CCG vessels.

The CCG had continuously impeded the voyage of the UM4, a civilian contracted ship, and its escort vessels on Saturday.

According the AFP, at past 6 a.m., a CCG vessel performed a "dangerous maneuver of crossing the bow" of UM4.

About an hour later, the CCG then conducted a "reverse blocking maneuver" against UM4 on the latter's approach to Ayungin Shoal "causing near collision."

Just minutes later, Philippine Coast Guard escort vessel MRRV 4409 was "impeded and encircled" by a CCG vessel and two Chinese militia ships, according to Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea.

Tarriela said, "MRRV 4409 has been isolated from the resupply boat due to the irresponsible and provocative behavior of the Chinese maritime forces, who have shown a disregard for the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)."

Right before 8 a.m., the AFP said, the CCG "started blasting water cannon" at UM4 "deliberately targeting and hitting supply boat." Succeeding videos from the PCG showed that the supply vessel received sustained water cannon blasts from the CCG.

At 8:38 a.m., two CCG vessels directed water cannons at the UM4, which eventually sustained heavy damage.

Helping the supply ship

The AFP later reported that BRP Cabra, a PCG vessel, managed to maneuver and reach UM4 to provide assistance.

The UM4 is the same vessel that was damaged after being water cannoned by the China Coast Guard earlier this month. Four Filipino Navy crew members were injured in that incident.

Meanwhile, a report from Reuters quoted the China Coast Guard as saying that it took control measures against Philippine vessels in the Second Thomas Shoal and Spratly Islands waters on Saturday. 

The AFP said UM4 departed the Naval Detachment Oyster Bay in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Friday, March 22, 2024. It is escorted by two Philippine Navy ships and two more from the Philippine Coast Guard. 

Floating barriers up

Despite the harassment, the AFP said UM4 reached BRP Sierra Madre at 11:09 a.m.

"Six Philippine Navy personnel and essential cargoes were transferred from Unaizah May 4 and BRP Cabra (MRRV 4409) to BRP Sierra Madre by RHIB at 11:09 am. They arrived and moored at the starboard side of LS57 at 11:59 am," said the AFP in an update. 

However, the AFP said that UM4 "could not continue its course" because of the water cannon incident.

"Unaizah May 4 was severely damaged due to the direct blasting of water cannons by CCG vessels and could not continue its course," the AFP said.

It also said that a Chinese maritime militia vessel "deployed and installed floating barriers to prevent further entry of any vessels in the shoal."

In a separate statement, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said China's ''latest acts of unprovoked aggression, coercion, and dangerous maneuvers against a legitimate and routine Philippine RoRe mission to Ayungin Shoal, have once again placed at risk, caused severe damage to property, and caused physical harm to Filipinos on board UM4.''

"The actions of the agents of the PRC (People's Republic of China) today in the waters of the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) show to the Filipino people, the region, and the world that the PRC recognizes no reasonable or legal restraint nor limitation upon its actions under international law," it added.

Meanwhile, CCG spokesperson Gan Yu claimed that the Philippines conducted an "irregular resupply mission.''

He said the Philippines sent two PCG ships and one resupply ship ''to intrude into the adjacent waters'' of Ayungin Shoal, which China calls Ren’ai Jiao, ''only 18 days after its resupply mission, ''attempting to transport construction materials'' to BRP Sierra Madre. 

"It is a deliberate and provocative move that infringes upon China's sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests and undermines peace and stability in the South China Sea. Despite repeated warnings and routing control by the Chinese side, the Filipino resupply ship tried to intrude into the adjacent waters of Ren’ai Jiao forcefully," Gan said. 

24 Oras Weekend reported on Sunday that, in the CCG's videos of the incident, the UM4 is never seen water cannoned by two Chinese vessels at the same time.

The CCG video also shows a white cloth being waved from the UM4.

China claims the waters nearly in their entirety, despite an international tribunal ruling on a case filed by the Philippines that invalidated such an assertion. — VDV/VAL/VBL/DVM, GMA Integrated News