Philippines and China in naval spat at disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal

China and the Philippines are once again locked in a naval spat after attempts by personnel from the Philippine Navy warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to arrest Chinese fishermen found to be carrying contraband in Philippine waters were blocked by Chinese surveillance vessels. According to an Associated Press report…

On Tuesday, Filipino sailors from the warship boarded the Chinese vessels for an inspection, discovering large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks inside the first boat, the department said in a statement.

Two Chinese maritime surveillance ships, identified as Zhonggou Haijian 75 and Zhonggou Haijian 84, later approached and positioned themselves between the Philippine warship and the Chinese fishing vessels “thus preventing the arrests of the erring Chinese fishermen,” the statement said.

[Photo courtesy]

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar or Patrol Frigate 15 (PF-15, pictured above) is an ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton class cutter. She was previously known as USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715) and was transferred to the Philippine Navy on May 13, 2011. She is the second Philippine Navy ship to have borne the same name, the first being another ex-US Coast Guard Cutter. She is expected to be the first of several ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters that will serve the Philippine Navy.

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She has a maximum speed of 28 knots and is reportedly armed by the Philippine Navy with one Mk.38 M242 Bushmaster 25 mm chain gun aft, two Mk.16 20 mm guns at midships, and six 50-caliber 12.7 mm machine guns (two forward below the main gun, two at flight deck shoulder extensions, and two near the Mk.38 gun aft) in addition to the Mk.75 Oto Melara 76 mm Compact main gun it was equipped with prior to the turnover.

According to a press release coming from the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines’ largest warship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar had previously been deployed to patrol the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal on the 8th of April in an area that is “within the Philippines’ 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf” as part of the government’s efforts to enforce the Philippine Fisheries Code and marine environment protection laws.

It is at this time that the warship encountered the Chinese vessels. One of the Chinese vessels involved in the incident, the Zhonggou Haijian 84 is pictured below.

[Photo courtesy People’s Daily Online]

The Zhonggou Haijian 84 was built in 2011 and is a vessel designed for research and survey purposes and has a reported maximum speed of 16 knots. As the AP report indicated, it is now being used as a “maritime surveillance ship” and, as such, presumably not as well-armed as a true warship.

Both the Philippines and China along other countries lay territorial claims to the area where the incident is occuring. However, the Philippine government through Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario is currently pursuing a diplomatic solution to the brewing conflict.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted off and used in accordance with that site’s Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License consistent with the same license applied by Get Real Post to its content.]

31 Replies to “Philippines and China in naval spat at disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal”

  1. Benigs, the BRP del Pilar has a higher maximum speed. It can outrun the two Chinese ships!!!

    If a gunfight did indeed occur between the two opposing, how long would the BRP have before the Chinese air force come in and sink it? Makes you go hmm…

    1. 3 years ago, Lee Kuan said this at:


      “…Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all have claims on the islets and sand banks in the Paracels and Spratlys. Chinese maps show these islets and most of the South China Sea as under Chinese ownership. There have also been disputes over fishing grounds between China and various ASEAN countries. The Chinese have built on several islets fishing outposts, and coastguard vessels patrol them. Later, behind these small patrol craft will be a blue-water fleet.”

      Full Speech at:

      Lee Kuan Yew really have good foresights.

      Actually it wouldn’t be a big surprise if several kilo class subs are already lurking under the West Philippine Sea.

      1. There are advanced Anti Submarine Planes, that can easily detect Submarines, track them easily and destroy them…

        1. Tracking a diesel electric sub is not as easy as what most people would like to think.

          Case 1: HMS Goland (The US navy spent a year trying to locate this sub off the florida coast)

          “Gotland managed to penetrate the massive defensive measures of a carrier battle group undetected and snap several pictures of the USS Ronald Reagan during a wargaming exercise in the Pacific Ocean, effectively “sinking” the aircraft carrier.[10] The exercise was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the US Fleet against modern diesel-electric submarines, which some have noted as severely lacking.”

          Case 2: War Exercise Silent Fury
          RAN Sub “Ranklin” Vs US Navy

          They are more quiet and hence more deadly because of their ability to hide well. With the recent development of “Air Independent Propulsion System” (AIPS), they can stay longer underwater.

    2. @Fallen Angel: Can you outrun a SilkWorm Missile, traveling twice the speed of sound or Mach 2? If our Admirals will think like this; then, we better throw ourselves to the “bangin”…ito na ang daan matuwid, talaga…

  2. A technical act of war by the Chinese! A sad situation when China dictates the rules in our waters ! What is the answer, you tell me! If we cannot defend our own territory we may as well concede the Sratlys and throw the rest as a bonus ! Maybe the US Navy needs to be there full time

    1. Our idiot “Patriotic” Political leaders removed the American Defense Umbrella …the U.S Navy 7th Fleet that Patrols the Philippine Sea…

  3. Harsh words or diplomatic solutions won’t do anything as long as China knows that it can take down our entire navy with a couple of their warships and a handful of fighter jets.

    It’s like going into a gunfight alone, armed with only a knife while fighting 50 guys with AK-47s and an unlimited supply of bullets.

  4. Thanks for the report. It is dangerous, this kind of situation, and one never knows if it is best to be diplomatic or assertive because one cannot predict the behavior of an opponent that thinks emotionally rather than rationally. China is on a secretive war footing, a national thief playing games with other people’s property, whether it be stolen technology or coral. The Philippine ship could be a modern day Lusitania, with the men on it. The new brink, right to the west there . . .

  5. BenignO: The latest an hour ago (2:00 PM, 11th) is that, in response to the “diplomatic” statement that that Scarborough shoal was “an integral part of Philippine territory,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila has likewise “urged the Philippine side to stop immediately their illegal activities and leave this area.”

    So, where are those militants who used to protest loudly against the presence of the American bases here, will they be marching to the Chinese Embassy soon?

  6. The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar does not have the muscle to even display a decent show of force. We only have Mr. BS Aquino to blame for his fake AFP Modernization Plan. It is a downgraded vessel. Which means they have no Harpoon anti-ship missiles, no surface to air missile capability, no anti-submarine warfare capability and no Phalanx electric Gatling gun.

    We are trying to acquire old F-16’s from the US. But what can this do against the massive Chinese air fleet? Should China start a flash conflict incident we stand to lose the tip of the spear Hamilton gun boat. I believe skillful diplomacy and alliances will act as a deterrence against Chinese inroads into our territory. The bottom line is we have no modern external defense capability.

    1. We are now in the Age of Electronic Warfare…the Iraq-American War opened us to this age. If you are still thinking of : Canons and Machine Guns…then, you are still in the Stone Age. YellowTard people think this way…

    2. Sorry to say but a bunch of F-16’s couldn’t help us in maritime defense if it doesn’t have AS missiles like Exocet and the new AESA APG 80 radar like those of F-18

  7. I do wonder if we can successfully charge them with destroying wildlife. Then again, they have huge monetary power over many things.
    I feel that some Chinese businessmen became too greedy to the point of stating their own laws contrary to what is set internationally.

  8. It’s an attempt again of Noynoy Aquino to provoke an international incident; to divert his incompetence in leading the nation. A World War II class ship, is no match to a modern Chinese Warship. The Chinese has already developed, new generations of SilkWorm Missiles. This Missile can sink the Gregorio del Pilar, with one blow. Canons and machine guns are no match to a GPS guided missile. Our Admirals have not fought any modern naval warfare. They’re only good in their uniforms…or in parade grounds…

  9. China’s navy inventory :

    notable items : 10 nuke subs, 53 conventional subs, 1 a/c, 25 destroyers, 47 frigates – all in active service

    China’s air force :

    Philippine navy :

    notable items : 2 frigates, 11 corvettes

    Philippine air force :

    kaya it’s better for the govt to do diplomatic relations, kahit alam nilang di aatras ang intsik. sabi nga nila na nasa pwesto, “wala naman tayong magagawa”.

    1. Sure, ibig mung sabihin ay mag paiyut nalang and Pinas dahil wala naman silang magagawa kaya mag enjoy nalang; kasi rin mga Penoys naniniwala sila na ang Pinas e lahi ng Intsik.

    2. There is no existing Integrated Air Defense capability , that can defend the country from surprise attacks. All our war materials are World War II vintage, left by the Americans during the Philippine liberation era…the thinking of our Generals and Admirals are obsolete…they cannot formulate any capable defense strategy for the nation…

  10. ang mga pilipino ay panay angrally laban sa present ng US sa pilipinas ano ngayon ang masasabi ng mga rallista pag ginera ang pinas ng chinese kaya ba nilang lumaban ng walang tulong na manggagaling sa kano !!

  11. Diplomacy Favors The Strong! Red China is in the backyard of Da Pinas, now what gives? Simple, the behaviors are largely in Cultural and Economic reasons, influentials in dominating Philippines and Taiwan as expanded territories -a vast area- doing so chokes Japan and South Korea; places formidable wall on ASEAN countries like Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Guam, Marianas -naming some. The grand Chessmanship of Red China.

  12. China exerting it’s pressure on a country with no way to defend itself and the reality is that there’s not much that can be done especially with no super power in country and not interested in coral life, green peace would never try and push around the Chinese they would end up sunk they don’t play around.

  13. The glaring silence of the militant groups here who are severely interested in “sovereignty” when the US is the offender but not when China is is quite telling.

    1. eto ka, yung vietnam nag protesta,

      Protesters gather near China’s embassy in Hanoi for a fourth consecutive Sunday. They’re upset over what that they see as China’s “invasive action” in the South China sea.

      A group of people gather in a park in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi for the fourth consecutive Sunday to protest against what they see as China’s “invasive action” in the South China Sea.

      The crowd was told to move along by the police, and walked peacefully toward the centre of Hanoi, waving flags.

      The protesters sang patriotic songs and chanted slogans like “The Spratlys and Paracels belong to Vietnam” — a reference to disputed islands in the South China Sea.

      sa atin, nagprotesta mga taga lfs, gabriela at akbayan, etc, against vfa. pero walang nababalitang pagprotesta sa embassy ng china tungkol sa pag”momolestya” sa ating karagatan ng china.

      on another note, balita ko tatakbong sen si hontiveros ng akbayan, w/ the lp list. mukhang mas gusto nila na sindakin tayo ng china kaysa ng US.

  14. my dearest fellowmen , let us face the fact that we really need americans to protect our own mother nation to others..

    1. I can think of a scenario where all of this would not be taking on the dimension of a nightmare! Maybe US commonwealth status should have been taken! Guam, The Marshalls, Tinian, Rota!!! None of this is going on there and you know why !!! And the 12 Bozos that voted the US bases out, where are they now and what are they doing======== just a thought friends

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