By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

‘MONSTER’ SHIP. The China Coast Guard 5901 was spotted by personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) near Lawak Island in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on Monday (June 24, 2024). PCG Commodore Jay Tarriela said the vessel was spotted to have entered the exclusive economic zones of Malaysia and Brunei, aside from the Philippines, during its incursion in the WPS last week. (Photo courtesy of PCG)

MANILA – China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel 5901, one of the largest coast guard vessels in the world, was also spotted entering the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Malaysia and Brunei aside from entering the Philippines’ EEZ during its incursion in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In a statement Thursday, National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) spokesperson Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commodore Jay Tarriela said the location of CCG 5901 for the last 10 days was tracked using Canada’s Dark Vessel Detection technology.

The vessel was spotted entering the EEZs of Malaysia and Brunei on June 20 after it entered Kagitingan Reef, possibly to resupply.

The CCG ship was first tracked on June 17 when it departed from Hainan and directly encroached on territorial waters of Philippine-occupied features of Parola and Pag-asa.

“It then proceeded to enter Zamora Reef, where it stayed overnight, before continuing its voyage by passing through Bayani and Union Banks,” Tarriela said.

After its incursion into Malaysian and Bruneian waters, CCG 5901 went north, re-entered the Philippine EEZ, and passed through Rizal Reef until it made another supply stop at Panganiban Reef on June 23.

“The following day, she continued to navigate within the Philippines EEZ, selectively passing through Lawak and Patag, and then making a quick southeasterly turn to pass through Escoda Shoal,” Tarriela said.

The vessel went directly toward El Nido, Palawan, maintaining a distance of 34 nautical miles (NM) from the coastline.

It later quickly turned toward Bajo de Masinloc (BDM).

“After spending a few hours loitering at BDM, CCG 5901 sailed back towards Hainan,” Tarriela said.

As of 8 a.m. on Thursday, the vessel was monitored at a distance of 46 NM southeast of Sanya, Hainan in China.

On Tuesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it is keeping a close watch on all activities in the WPS after CCG 5901 was reported to have entered Ayungin Shoal.

The presence of the 12,000-ton CCG ship near BRP Sierra Madre, it said, is part of China’s broader pattern of intrusive patrols aimed at asserting unlawful claims over areas within the Philippines’ EEZ. (PNA)