China on Friday sent four planes, including three military ones, to Vietnam’s waters where the Chinese oil rig is illegally stationed.
Notably, a Chinese vessel that partook in a joint patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin with its Vietnamese counterpart two months ago challenged the same local vessel the same day.
These aircraft included an attack helicopter Z-9C, a Su-30 MKK fighter, and a fixed-wing spying plane, according to Vietnam News Agency.
These planes flew at low elevations above the Vietnamese vessels that were trying to get close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig to demand that it and its escorting ships leave Vietnamese waters, where they have been deployed illegally since May 1.
While approaching the rig, the Vietnamese vessels had to try to avoid being rammed or collided by Chinese ships, which outnumbered the local fleet.
As witnessed by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s reporters on the scene, at 7:45 am on Friday, Vietnamese coast guard CSB 8003 and several other local ships entered an area 10 nautical miles from the rig.
Immediately, a much higher number of Chinese ships sped towards the Vietnamese vessels to block their way.
Because of the aggressive attitude of the foreign ships, the local vessels had to try to avoid being hit by them.
At 8 am, Chinese helicopter # 9237 hovered 6 rounds above vessel CSB 8003 and other Vietnamese vessels to photograph and videotape them.
Throughout yesterday, many Chinese vessels including coast guard ships # 3383, 45102 and 13, marine surveillance ship 2168, tugboat # 263 and tugboat Haishan tried to seek ways to ram Vietnamese vessels in order to drive them away from the rig.
The total number of Chinese vessels in the waters yesterday was 116, including five warships.
Local ship threatened by “old Chinese friend”
At 8:40 am yesterday, when local vessels got closer to the rig at a distance of 8 nautical miles, a large number of Chinese vessels rushed towards them and attempt to ram them.
It is worth noting that the vessel that led these Chinese boats was coast guard ship #3210, which took part in a joint patrol in the Gulk of Tonkin with its Vietnamese counterpart CSB 8003.
This Chinese vessel sped up to 22 nautical miles and approached its “old friend” CSB 8003 aggressively. It sounded its sirens loudly and operated high-pressure loudspeakers to threaten the Vietnamese vessel.
“Chinese ship #3210 was present in the area in early May, but this is the first time that it drastically prevented and was ready to crash into vessel CSB 8003,” said Colonel Luu Tien Thang, deputy political chairman of the High Command of Vietnam Coast Guard.
At one point this Chinese ship vessel was only 50 meters away from vessel #3210, Colonel Thang said.
Meanwhile, despite being continuously threatened by China’s large iron-clad fishing vessels, Vietnam’s smaller wooden-made fishing boats tried to maintain their operations in areas 15-20 nautical miles from the rig, under the protest of Vietnamese fishery surveillance ships, Tuoi Tre correspondents reported from the scene.