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Catanduanes on Alert

Philippine Military Monitors “Unauthorized” Chinese Research Vess

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are on high alert as an unauthorized Chinese research vessel, “Shen Kuo,” has been spotted near Catanduanes. The vessel’s presence is considered potentially threatening, and the AFP has been attempting to establish communication, but so far, it has not succeeded.

The “Shen Kuo ” was first detected on Thursday, April 25th, approximately 60 nautical miles east of Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay. According to the Tactical Operations Wing, Southern Luzon (TOWSOL), the vessel has remained stationary and appeared deserted, with “no personnel on the main deck.” Despite repeated attempts to contact the ship through standard radio channels, the AFP has reported a “lack of responsiveness or willingness to engage” from those aboard.

In response to the vessel’s presence, the Philippine military has deployed additional vessels for surveillance, increased reporting efforts, and is collaborating with other government agencies to investigate the vessel’s purpose within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The “Shen Kuo” is a Chinese-flagged, 3,000-ton oceanographic research vessel equipped with various scientific instruments, including a multibeam echo sounder and a sub-bottom profiler. The vessel can conduct a range of research activities, including hydrographic, geological, and geophysical surveys.

Shen Kuo’s appearance near Catanduanes is not an isolated incident. It comes amidst the annual Balikatan exercises, which are already a source of tension between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea. The Philippine military remains vigilant and is prepared to take any necessary action to protect the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.