The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reveals that the most recent resupply mission to the remote military outpost on Friday morning, November 10, faced interference from 38 Chinese vessels.
Among them, 28 belonged to the Chinese maritime militia, five were from the China Coast Guard (CCG), and five were from the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
As two supply boats and three PCG ships tried to navigate through the blockades, 11 Chinese ships actively harassed Filipino vessels, marking the highest number of such incidents to date.
Adding to the complexity, a U.S. Navy plane circled overhead, observing the situation.
Despite the challenging conditions of choppy waters, PCG vessels, including the BRP Sindangan, managed to advance nearly 2 kilometers from the shoal’s entrance.
The Chinese vessels, including five coast guards and six maritime militia ships, engaged in dangerous maneuvers throughout the confrontation.
This mission also witnessed an unusual deployment, with the PCG sending three escort ships, including the 97-meter BRP Melchora Aquino, alongside the standard two 44-meter Japanese-built PCG patrol ships.
PCG commandant Adm. Ronnie Gil Gavan emphasized that ship deployment depends on operational needs, dismissing it as a standard practice.
The situation intensified when a Chinese coast guard ship targeted the ML Kalayaan, a rescue vessel borrowed by the Philippine Navy, with a water cannon.
The vessel had replaced the damaged Unaizah May 2 from a previous collision with a CCG vessel. Amid concerns from some members of the municipal council of Kalayaan, the PCG ships showcased resilience, making it the closest they’ve been during a resupply mission.
PCG ships deployed rubber boats carrying journalists to approach the BRP Sierra Madre, asserting that China does not control Ayungin Shoal, contrary to its claims.
The CCG attempted to chase the rubber dinghies, but they were intercepted by the Philippine Navy’s rigid hull inflatable boats at the shoal’s entrance.
Amidst the challenges, the enduring BRP Sierra Madre remains a weathered shipwreck, defiantly hoisting the Philippine flag, symbolizing the Filipino resistance to Chinese expansion