Three Chinese vessels on Monday attacked a Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ship in Vietnam’s waters, injuring two fisheries surveillance officers and seriously damaging their watercraft, VnExpress newspaper correspondents reported from the scene.
These attacking ships are among the 117-121 Chinese vessels, including five warships, which were deployed yesterday to guard China’s oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 that has been illegally placed in Vietnamese waters since early May.
At 9:30 am, when two Vietnamese vessels including fisheries surveillance ship KN-951 and Coast Guard boat CSB 4033 were operating in an area 11.5 nautical miles from the rig, seven Chinese vessels approached and cornered them.
One of these Chinese vessels, tugboat 09, then crashed into vessel KN-951 on its right side. At the same time, another Chinese vessel, #11, got close to the stern of the local ship and fired water cannons at it.
Despite the hard hit and the high-pressure water flows, KN-951 tried to escape the attackers. However, another Chinese tugboat, #285, rammed the local ship on its left side.
Immediately, Vietnamese vessel CSB 4033 and many other Vietnamese ships traveled to the scene and positioned themselves in a line to prevent the attackers from continuing slamming into ship KN-951.
These aggressive Chinese ships continued chasing the local vessels and drove them to areas as far as 15 nautical miles from the drilling platform.
Meanwhile, at least four other Chinese coast guard vessels, #31, #3210, #2401 and #13101, attempted to run into Vietnam Coast Guard CSB 8003 that was rushing to the scene where ship KN-951 had just been assaulted.
The cruel assault caused serious damage to vessel KN-951, the body of which is now mostly broken. In addition, a life raft of the vessel fell into the sea.
Many holes were punctured in the vessel’s body during the attack, through which water flowed into the ship.
The ship’s crew members had to use anything possible to seal the holes to prevent it from sinking.
Two fisheries surveillance officers were slightly injured in the attack. One of them was cut by a piece of metal in his left arm, while the other suffered a bleeding wound on his leg.
After receiving first aid, both the officers said they would continue their duties on their ship.
Vessel KN-951 is one of the Vietnamese vessels that have joined the Vietnamese force in the waters since May 3, two days after the rig was illegally placed there, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department said.
The ship has been attacked by Chinese vessels many times, but this time it endured the most serious damage, with the entire boat being ravaged.
Besides the cruel attack, the rig’s escorting Chinese ships kept chasing Vietnamese ships with a distance as close as 20m and driving them away, and many of the foreign vessels were ready to bump into Vietnamese ships whenever possible, the department said.
This attack has taken the total number of Vietnamese fisheries surveillance officers injured in the assaults by the rig’s guarding vessels since early May to 17, the department reported.
It also brought the total number of ships of Vietnam’s marine law enforcement and Coast Guard forces that were damaged in the Chinese side’s attacks to at least 29.
In addition, seven Vietnamese fishing boats have been also disfigured in such attacks.