MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese naval frigate stranded in Half Moon Shoal was rescued on Sunday, July 15, after the Philippine military had spotted a number of Chinese boats in the area.
“Around 5am of July 15, the grounded frigate near Nansha’s Half Moon Shoal was refloated successfully, with minor damage in the stem part,” said a statement posted on the website of the Chinese embassy in Manila.
The statement added: “All the personnel aboard are safe. Now the preparation for return to the port is underway. No contamination has been caused in the incident area.”
On Saturday, the Philippine Air Force spotted at least 5 Chinese maritime vessels conducting rescue operations in Half Moon Shoal and a number of smaller boats in the area locally known as Hasa-Hasa Shoal. (Read: PH, China deploy ships to Half Moon Shoal)
A military source told Rappler that the Western Command was monitoring the rescue operations and a Navy patrol ship was waiting nearby.
Western Command spokesperson Lt Col Neil Estrella earlier said that the ship was ready to assist the Chinese warship in Half Moon Shoal, which is within Philippine territory. (Read: PH ready to assist Chinese warship)
The same day, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippines was “duty-bound” to assist the Chinese frigate.
“Dispute or no dispute we will render assistance, if it’s needed. Allow me to make that clarification because I did see a report from the Chinese embassy saying that the rescue from their side is under way,” said Valte in an interview over the government-run radio dzRB.
An investigation is under way to determine why the Chinese ship is there, Estrella noted.
China, which claims the territory, likewise said it is ready to rescue its ship in Half Moon Shoal, said a statement from the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines on Friday, July 13.
The embassy said no personnel was injured in the accident involving the ship. (Read: China says to rescue warship stuck in reef) – Rappler.com