China-Philippines crisis: UPDATE: PRC Gunboat tries to swamp PCG SHIP
Manila – The reports of unidentified planes flew over Bajo de Masinloc on Thursday filled television screens in the Philippines, The reef area is also known as Scarborough Shoals on US Naval maps since the last century.
The latest insident, comes as China’s patrol ship 310 that the Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed was pulled out also thursday in reports quoted on the state owned owned Xinghua news agency.
A PRC patrol gunboat, military sources say, attempted to swamp or disrupt the patrol of the Philippine coast guard vessel just off of the shores of Luzon Island. “They almost ran aground.” text messages to mikeinmanila from multiple sources in the Philippine government report.
A CG official speaking on condition of anonymity expressed concern. “They obviously do not know the reef, they almost ran aground on submerged rocks, but not to worry we will rescue them if they sink.” laughing at what he call provocative but idiotic attempts to get a reaction from the PCG vessels in the area.
The Scarborough shoals area is considered in international shipping a ‘dangerous ground with numerous rocks and reefs. Per maps of the US Navy of the area made when the reefs were under the US flag in the 1900′s as well as Spanish maps dating back to 1600′s show it as reef part of the Philippine Islands or as it was known then Las Islas Filipinas.
it has seen numerous groundings of vessels who were unfamiliar with the area. Since spain published the “Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Yslas Filipinas, published in 1734 by Father Pedro Murillo Velarde, includes the shoal as part of the province of Zambales.” a statement of the Philippine government position says.
US Naval charts also clearly identified the small atol shaped reef as Philippine islands, USA from 1900 and the area was frequently used for gunnery practice by US and Philippine naval ships.
In 1792, the Alejandro Malaspina expedition drew a similar map which showed the route of the Malaspina expedition to and around the shoal and was reproduced in the Atlas of the 1939 Philippine Census. Further the Mapa General, Islas Filipinas, Observatorio de Manila, published in 1990 by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, also includes the Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippines.
SATURDAY MORNING ‘Dangerous manuevers’
Bajo de Masinloc (aka Scarborough shoals) is where PCG’s 56 meter long Brp EDSA 003 reported “bullying” activity by a intruding Chinese armed gunboat the Chinese PROC FLEC 310 against two PHL SAR vessels during monitoring at the Bajo de Masinloc area.
Saturday morning at 9:00 am ( April 28, 2012) “FLEC 310 approached rapidly BRP EDSA which was at ‘all stop’ then “veered away crossing past the right side of the BRP EDSA PCG 003 at 20.3 knots.
“We think they moved just in time, they nearly hit a portion of hidden rocks, It just shows they are unfamiliar with the area. China should send more trained mariners.” a naval officer jokingly told mikeinmanila over the phone. “It just shows how much they don’t know the area.”
“But. kidding aside this was an attempt at provocation.” the officer continued saying the actions in Naval parlance is known as a “swamping attempt” but he also noted this is considered a undisciplined act in dangerous seas areas where a reef is present.
Again at 9:15 am, “FLEC 310 in a aggressive manner at high speed it attempted to swamp BRP SARV 002 from her right to the left at a distance of 200 yards at a speed of 20.6 knots.
In the incidents the armed gunboat FLEC 310, created a wave of a height of 2 meters in her wake There was no reaction from the two PCG ships. and the Incident was properly documented.
BRP EDSA SARV 003 has left the area at 0925 hours for Manila.
The PH Navy and PCG are closely monitoring activities in the area. A PCG officer says coast guardsmen are on standby since the Chinese vessel is clearly unfamiliar with the reef at Bajo de Masinloc in the process. “We will rescue them if they they need help, they need to be more careful they nearly hit the reef several times already.”
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