By Mei Jingya, Sina English
The Chinese naval frigate, which was stranded in Half Moon Shoal last week, was refloated successfully around 5am of July 15 with the assistance of the Chinese navy's rescue force, with minor damage in the fore end.
All the personnel aboard are safe. No contamination has been caused in the incident area. The escort vessel is already on its way home, according to media reports Monday.
China’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that the ship had run aground while on a routine patrol mission. The stranding prompted both China and the Philippines to send out rescue ships.
Half Moon Shoal is rich in fishing resources. Chinese fishermen have fished in the area all year round. The Philippines has coveted the shoal for years, even sending sailors to the area. And they intentionally destroyed Chinese structures and made markings on it, prompting protest of the Chinese side.
Philippine’s Whimsay website published an article on July 13, suggesting that the frigate ran aground ‘intentionally’. The author wrote that the fact that Chinese military vessels can navigate this close to Palawan is an embarrassment to Philippine’s sovereignty, and on the other hand, it shows Chinese crew was unfamiliarity with the seas.
“Let’s just hope it’s not the same shameful tactic that our government tried before - intentionally grounding ships on contested reefs,” says the article, referring to a Philippine warship which 'ran aground' at the Renai Shoal in the South China Sea on May 9, 1999 and never left since to show the area was under administration of the Philippines.
Naval expert Li Jie said on July 13 that the frigate’s stranding was not a result of crew’s unfamiliarity with sea. Warships of Japan and the United States were grounded in waters near Hawaii before. Accidents like this are common due to changing ocean currents.
An escort vessel of PLA Navy stranded by accident near the Half Moon Shoal in the South China Sea when on a routine patrol at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday. No casualties. The rescue job is under way, released by the website of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense.