Philippine coastguard claims ‘laser’ harassment by China

A Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Parola-class patrol vessel was menaced by a “military-grade” laser deployed from a trespassing China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel while it was on a resupply mission in sovereign waters, the PCG announced in mid-February.

The vessel, BRP Malapascua, encountered the CCG’s Type 718B-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Haijing 5205 on 6 February while it was resupplying Philippine Navy crew stationed on Second Thomas Shoal, the service added.

The PCG’s 44-metre Parola-class Multirole Response Vessels (MRRVs) are built by Japan Marine United Corporation (JMUC)’s Yokohama shipyard. These are based on a Japan Coast Guard design, the Bizan-class patrol vessel.

“As BRP Malapascua reached a 10 nautical mile distance from Ayungin Shoal, the CCG vessel was monitored approximately 4 nautical mile of the ship’s dead ahead manoeuvring from the portside heading starboard side,” the PCG statement said.

“The Chinese ship illuminated the green laser light twice towards the BRP Malapascua, causing temporary blindness to her crew at the bridge,” it added. “The Chinese vessel also made dangerous manoeuvres by approaching about 150 yards from the vessel’s starboard quarter.”

Besides the laser nuisance, the PCG noted that the crew of Haijing 5205 also removed the cover of its main gun. The OPV was then joined by two Chinese maritime militia boats and another CCG vessel (5102). This effectively formed a 13 nautical mile blockade around the grounded BRP Sierra Madre, on which Philippine troops are stationed to defend the country’s territorial claims.

“The deliberate blocking of the Philippine government ships to deliver food and supplies to our military personnel onboard the BRP Sierra Madre is a blatant disregard for, and a clear violation of, Philippine sovereign rights in this part of the West Philippine Sea,” the service added, using the local term for the South China Sea.

“The [Armed Forces of the Philippines] can always rely on the PCG to support their resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal. Despite the dangerous manoeuvre of the much larger CCG ships and their aggressive actions at sea, the PCG ships will always be in the West Philippine Sea to sustain our presence and assert our sovereign rights,” said PCG commandant Admiral Artemio M Abu in the statement.

by Jr Ng