Philippine Coast Guard reports lasing by Chinese vessel in Spratlys

Photo: Philippine Coast Guard

The Philippine Coast Guard has reported an incident wherein one of its vessels was illuminated by a military-grade laser light from a Chinese ship in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea earlier this month.

The incident occurred at around 18:50 local time on February 6 when the multi-role response vessel (MRRV) BRP Malapascua was performing resupply duties in support of Philippine Navy units deployed on Second Thomas Shoal.

The MRRV was illuminated by a green laser light fired from another vessel four nautical miles off the port bow. The coast guard said the laser light caused the temporary blindness of the MRRV’s bridge crew, forcing them to alter course while still 10 nautical miles out from the shoal.

The source of the laser has been identified as a China Coast Guard vessel with hull number 5205.

The Chinese vessel also executed a series of dangerous manoeuvres, approaching to within as close as 137 metres of the MRRV, the coast guard added.

The coast guard said this deliberate blocking of Philippine government ships to deliver food and supplies to military personnel on the shoal is “a blatant disregard for and a clear violation of Philippine sovereign rights in this part of the West Philippine Sea.”

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