Chinese research vessel in east PH showing ‘erratic behavior’

MANILA. Chinese-flagged research vessel, "Shen Kuo," loitering in the vicinity northeast of Vigan Catanduanes as spotted by Nomad N-22 aircraft.
MANILA. Chinese-flagged research vessel, "Shen Kuo," loitering in the vicinity northeast of Vigan Catanduanes as spotted by Nomad N-22 aircraft.Photo from AFP

THE Chinese research vessel monitored in the eastern portion of the Philippines has shown “erratic behavior,” an indication that it is conducting studies or maritime research in the areas, Philippine Navy spokesperson Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

In a press conference, Trinidad said they are continuously monitoring Shen Kuo, which reportedly departed Shenzhen Port on April 13 and has since been sailing in the Philippine territorial waters, particularly in the vicinity of Batanes and Catanduanes.

MANILA. Chinese-flagged research vessel, "Shen Kuo," loitering in the vicinity northeast of Vigan Catanduanes as spotted by Nomad N-22 aircraft.
Chinese-flagged research vessel monitored off Catanduanes

“Their erratic behavior or their erratic track is indicative of conducting studies or possibly maritime research for whatever reason,” he said.

“The Philippine Air Force on a maritime surveillance flight was able to get a picture of the ship lowering an unidentified equipment probably for scientific research or studies,” he added.

Trinidad said they are currently in the process of identifying the equipment, which was brought down 100 miles east of Catanduanes.

In a statement, the Visayas Command (Viscom) said the Shen Kuo was spotted in the vicinity of Eastern Samar in the morning of April 30.

Viscom commander Lieutenant General Fernando Reyeg expressed his firm resolve in safeguarding and preserving the integrity of the country’s territory.

“Viscom will remain committed to upholding the Philippine sovereignty and ensure the integrity of the country’s territory, particularly here in the Visayas region. We will continuously monitor this vessel and will address this incident through diplomatic channels in accordance with international maritime laws and protocols,” he said.

Reyeg said they are currently in close coordination with relevant agencies to investigate the unauthorized presence of the Chinese vessel in the Philippine waters.

Trinidad said they are coordinating with the Philippine Coast Guard for the deployment of a ship in the area.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier said that several attempts to contact the vessel through regular radio channels were unsuccessful, indicating a lack of responsiveness or willingness to engage.

Meanwhile, Trinidad also bared that three “consistent” and “behaved” Chinese research vessels were spotted in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) last week, the first time since last year.

“I view it as it coincided with Balikatan. It is their way of showing that they are not deterred, they are not scared by what is happening in the West Philippine Sea,” he said. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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