The Chinese ships that are guarding China’s illegal oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnam’s waters have increasingly attempted to ram or blast Vietnamese vessels with high-pressure water cannons over the past few days, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department reported Tuesday.
Yesterday China deployed 102-108 vessels around the rig, including 37-39 coast guard ships, 12-14 transport vessels, 17-19 tugboats, 30 iron-clad fishing ships and six military boats.
Compared to Monday, the total number of Chinese vessels in the waters reduced by 13-15, and the number of warships also decreased by one, the department said.
Throughout Tuesday, Chinese vessels often moved in a horizontal formation around the drilling platform and they were ready to ram or fire their water cannons at local vessels whenever possible, VnExpress newspaper correspondents reported from the scene.
The foreign vessels were arranged in groups of 5-10 ships that were aligned in arcs in areas 10-11 nautical miles from the rig to prevent Vietnamese vessels from approaching the platform.
At 8:00 am, when some Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ships entered an area about 10 nautical miles from the rig, the Chinese side deployed all six military ships, five tugboats and coast guard vessel #11, which immediately got close to the local vessels and blocked their way ahead. Similar situations occurred throughout the day.
There were times when the distance between the foreign and local vessels was as little as 10 meters.
From 1:10 pm to 2:25 pm, a Chinese plane coded CMS-B3586 operated at an altitude of 500-700 meters above the rig’s waters.
Despite threats from the Chinese ships, local vessels tried to get as close to the rig as possible to demand that it and its escorting ship leave the Vietnamese waters, the department said.
Vessel KN-951 attacked again
After being rammed twice by Chinese vessels on Sunday, Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ship KN-951 was repaired the same day so that it could continue operating.The two fisheries surveillance officers who were slightly injured in the attack have recovered and are determined to continue to work, the department said.
However, the surveillance ship faced threats from Chinese vessels once again yesterday morning when it was moving toward the rig.
Chinese tugboats #32 and #284 approached it and corned the Vietnamese watercraft in waters at a distance of only 10 meters.
Despite the threat, the local vessel managed to avoid being hit and maintain its operations in the waters.
Since early May the Chinese rig’s guarding ships have launched many attacks on Vietnamese vessels, injuring 17 fisheries surveillance officers and two fishermen.
They also damaged 29 boats of Vietnam’s marine law enforcement and Coast Guard forces, and seven fishing boats of local fishermen, the department reported.