One Vietnamese vessel was heavily damaged after being rammed by one of the Chinese vessels guarding China’s illegal oil rig in Vietnam’s waters on Sunday, when the rig moved to a new location, the Vietnam Coast Guard said.
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The attack is one of the three aggressive assaults by Chinese vessels that have been deployed to protect the Chinese drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 that has been placed in the Vietnamese waters since May 1.
The attack occurred at 4:00 pm on June 1, when Chinese coast guard ship 46015 sped up and crashed into Vietnam Coast Guard boat CSB 2016.
The local ship tilted to one side due to the hard hit, and it had to try its best to avoid subsequent rammings by the foreign ship that was following it.
The attack smashed the right side of the Vietnamese boat in four places, through which water flowed into the vessel. It also broke the water pump hose, two air ventilation pipes, and some other tools.
The crewmembers repaired it later the same day so that it could continue operating safely, said Senior Lieutenant Quan Dinh Duong, the captain of CSB 2016.
Earlier that day, at 11:30 am, a Chinese vessel fired its water cannon at Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ship 635 while two other Chinese ships prevented a Vietnam Coast Guard craft from protecting the attacked boat.
Vessel 635 tried to escape the assault after being blasted with high-pressure water cannons for five minutes.
Another attack occurred at 6:00 am when a dozen Chinese vessels rushed to Vietnamese ships that had entered an area 8.5 nautical miles from the rig.
The Chinese side used 2-3 vessels to threaten a local ship.
Twenty minutes later, Chinese coast guard boat 32 began to fire its water cannon at Vietnamese fisheries surveillance vessel 769 at a distance of 100 meters.
While the local ship was running away, Chinese coast guard boat 46001 chased it and attempted to crash into the Vietnamese ship.
After that, about 20 Chinese vessels launched similar assaults and threatening acts against Vietnamese ships for more than an hour before they retreated to an area about 8 nautical miles from the drilling platform.
The Chinese force attacked Vietnamese ships almost throughout the day.
At 5:30 pm, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s reporters on board Vietnam Coast Guard boat 8001 witnessed Chinese vessels fire their water cannons at local ships at least six times.
On Sunday, China used 38-40 coast guard boats, 25-30 transport ships and 45-50 fishing boats to guard the illicit rig in the Vietnamese waters, the Vietnamese Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department reported.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese vessels were located about 6-9 nautical miles from the rig and were prevented from approaching the platform, the department said.
The rig moves again
A notable point yesterday was that the rig began to move slowly at 8:40 am, at 0.5-0.6 nautical mile per hour, and continued moving until 12:00 pm.
Then it stopped at a new location, at 15°33’22’’ North latitude and 111°34’23’’ East longitude, about 140 meters northwest of the previous one, the Vietnam Coast Guard said.
This has been the second movement of the rig since it was positioned in the East Vietnam Sea on May 1.
The movement can be a normal operation aimed at exploring geographical conditions, but it can also a sign of preparations for China to remove the rig from the Vietnamese waters and hold bilateral negotiations with Vietnam, Rear Admiral Le Ke Lam said.
The Vietnamese force in the waters should continue closely monitoring the rig’s movements, the official advised.