Research vessels spotted in Philippine EEZ amid Balikatan Exercises

Research vessels spotted in Philippine EEZ amid Balikatan Exercises

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to monitor Chinese research vessels spotted moving within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

According to Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, Spokesperson for the Philippine Navy for the West Philippine Sea, The Chinese research vessel Shen Kuo departed from Shenzhen Port on April 13 and was observed passing through Itbayat and Basco, Batanes on April 22.

“We have been monitoring the ship through different sources. It departed Shenzhen on April 13, entered our EEZ on the 22nd, passing through the northern islands, specifically Itbayat within the territorial sea,” Comm Roy Vincent Trinidad, Spokesperson, WPS, PN stated.

According to Trinidad, while these are civilian research vessels, they could potentially be utilized by the Chinese military.

“These are civilian research vessels, but we expect that in times of crisis, they will come under the Chinese military commission,” Trinidad expressed.

Upon reaching Catanduanes, Trinidad said equipment was dropped from the vessel. The Philippine Navy is still investigating the matter.

“The ship lowered unidentified equipment, probably for scientific research or studies. We’re still trying to identify the particular type of equipment that was monitored,” Trinidad stated.

The Philippine Navy immediately coordinated with the Coast Guard to ascertain the true intentions of those aboard the ship.

“We were in close coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard to be able to send a ship to respond. Naval Forces West attempted to send one, but the ship had to turn back because of unfavorable sea conditions,” Trinidad added.

Aside from Shen Kuo, three other Chinese research vessels were also spotted at Ayungin Shoal.

“The three vessels in Ayungin Shoal were not doing anything,” he stressed.

Trinidad stated that China’s actions indicate they are not deterred by the military presence, as these incidents coincide with the Balikatan exercises.

“The three Chinese research vessels in Ayungin Shoal, and the one on the east coast, I view it as a way of showing that they are not deterred. They are not scared of what is happening in the West Philippine Sea. They synchronized it with our Balikatan exercises,” he said.

However, the officials noted that they expect more multilateral activities to occur due to these incidents.

“I mentioned that because of the presence of foreign warships, so we have seen a slight change in their behavior because of the multilateral maritime exercise.”

“Along that line, expect more multilateral activities in the future,” he added.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is coordinating with various government agencies regarding the situation.

“We continue to coordinate with the relevant agencies to address the unauthorized presence and investigate any illegal activities within our EEZ and ensure the protection and security of our waters.”

“The AFP remains vigilant, monitoring any unauthorized research vessel in our maritime domain. We have already tasked nearby vessels for enhanced surveillance and reporting,” he said.

Meanwhile, there has been a sudden increase in Chinese maritime militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea while the Philippines and the United States conduct their annual joint military drills.

According to data from the Philippine Navy, the surge of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea began in the first week of April, with a total of 78 vessels from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), China Coast Guard (CCG), Chinese maritime militia (CMM), and fishermen.


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