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 Bytemarks.org]
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.
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 Wikipedia.org 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.]
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