Philippines says ship damaged in South China Sea incident with Chinese boat

Collision occurred as the coast guard escorted a resupply mission to sailors on grounded ship at Second Thomas Shoal.

Crew members of a Philippine coast guard ship at the bow after a Chinese coast guard vessel cut into its path
The Philippine Coast Guard shared photos and videos of the latest incident [Philippine Coast Guard via Reuters]

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has said one of its boats suffered “minor structural damage” as Chinese ships tried to block a resupply mission in the South China Sea, in the latest confrontation in the disputed waters.

Jay Tarriela, the PCG spokesperson, said the incident took place early on Tuesday morning near Second Thomas Shoal where a small group of sailors have been living on board the Sierra Madre warship since it was grounded nearly 25 years ago.

He shared videos and images on X showing a Chinese ship cutting across the bow of the Philippine resupply ship and the crew rushing to drop a buoy between the vessels.

The PCG ships were accompanying the resupply boats.

“The PCG vessels faced dangerous maneuvers and blocking from Chinese Coast Guard vessels and Chinese Maritime Militia,” Tarriela wrote on the social media platform, adding that the resupply mission was continuing.

“Their reckless and illegal actions led to a collision between MRRV-4407 and China Coast Guard 21555 that resulted in minor structural damage to the PCG vessel.”

China’s Coast Guard said it had taken “regulatory actions” against Philippine ships in the area, accusing them of entering the waters “illegally”.

Tensions in the South China Sea have risen over the past year with Manila accusing Beijing of taking dangerous actions against its boats and lodging multiple diplomatic protests.

Second Thomas Shoal, known as Anyungin Shoal by the Philippines and Ren’ai Jiao by China, lies about 200km (124 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan and more than 1,000km from China’s southern Hainan Island.

The Philippines is one of several Southeast Asian countries that claim parts of the South China Sea, while Beijing claims the waters almost in their entirety.

In 2012, China seized control of Scarborough Shoal after a months-long standoff, and the Philippines took its case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which found China’s claims had no legal basis.

Beijing has ignored the ruling.

Source: Al Jazeera