Navy aware of major Chinese vessels passage in WPS

MANILA. The Philippine Coast Guard released this photo of the China Coast Guard's (CCG) largest ship, dubbed "The Monster."
MANILA. The Philippine Coast Guard released this photo of the China Coast Guard's (CCG) largest ship, dubbed "The Monster." Photo from PCG

THE Philippine Navy said on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, that it is aware of the passage of a Chinese aircraft carrier, as well as of its “monster ship” off the West Philippine Sea (WPS), as it vowed to continue to monitor the vast expanse of the country’s maritime domain.

In a press conference, Philippine Navy spokesperson for WPS Rear Admiral Roy Vincent Trinidad said they consider the presence of the Chinese aircraft carrier as an innocent passage.

“We have to understand that the South China Sea is a nautical highway. It could be likened to Edsa on any ordinary day. They are authorized under Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) either through freedom of navigation or rights of innocent passage,” he said.

Trinidad said the coastal state is authorized to challenge ships passing its maritime domain and check its course, speed, name, where they come from and their destination.

“It is part of an established practice of navies and coast guards and merchant vessels all over the world, some of them reply, some of them do not. But I would like to emphasize these are not only Chinese PLA navy ships that we challenge. All ships to include commercial vessels that transit through our sea lanes of communications, our (chokepoints) are regularly challenged. On a given day we challenge hundreds of them, all over the country,” he added.

Maritime expert and former US Air Force official Ray Powell said the CCG’s 5901, often called “The Monster,” passed Ayungin Shoal, near the BRP Sierra Madre, around 9 a.m. of June 24.

The People's Liberation Army-Navy (Plan) aircraft carrier Shandong was also monitored 200 nautical miles from Luzon, which is still within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

“On the report of the aircraft carrier and the monster ship of the coast guard, the Philippine Navy monitors our maritime domain, and we are aware of them,” said Trinidad.

Trinidad said from June 25 to July 1, they recorded a “drastic reduction” of Chinese vessels in the WPS to 95 from 129 during the week prior.

He said 13 of which were Chinese Coast Guard vessels, six Plan, and 76 Chinese maritime militia vessels.

He said the vessels were seen in several features of the WPS such as the Bajo de Masinloc, Ayungin Shoal, Pagasa and Panata Islands, Sabina Shoal, Juan Felipe Reef and Recto Bank. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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