The two civilian resupply boats managed to return safely from Ayungin Shoal after being chased, harassed, and attacked with water cannons by China’s Coast Guard ship last Saturday, August 5, during a rotation and resupply mission, as confirmed by the Western Command (WESCOM).
In a statement released last night, WESCOM revealed that Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos and Naval Forces West (NFW) commander Commodore Alan Javier promptly visited the resupply boats, named Unaizah Mae 1 and Unaizah Mae 2, following their “action-packed personnel rotation and resupply mission” to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin.
The incident was described as intense and alarming, with WESCOM stating, “Scores of China Coast Guard vessels and China militia ships harassed, shadowed, blocked, attempted to ram, and eventually fired water cannons at them. UM1 successfully evaded the CN vessels and was able to deliver food items and water to PN sailors aboard LS57. However, UM2 was not as fortunate as UM1 as it was at the receiving end of CCG vessel’s water cannons for almost 2 hours.”
Despite the harrowing encounter, WESCOM expressed relief that the two supply boats did not suffer major damage, allowing them to conduct future resupply runs to Ayungin.
Vice Admiral Carlos commended the crews’ resilience and determination in fulfilling their mission despite the aggressive actions from China’s Coast Guard. The incident adds to the rising tensions in the disputed waters, drawing international attention and concern over freedom of navigation and maritime security in the region.
The incident at Ayungin Shoal adds to the growing tensions in the West Philippine Sea, highlighting the complexities of the territorial disputes and the significance of maritime security and freedom of navigation in the region.
The international community remains closely watchful of the situation and calls for diplomatic dialogue and adherence to international law to prevent further escalation of conflicts in the contested waters.