ABOARD BRP TARLAC – Welcomed by patrolling Japanese and Chinese coast guard vessels, the Philippine naval contingent crossed the time zone dividing the South China Sea and East China Sea late Monday.

Three Japanese and two Chinese coast guard vessels made contact with the bridge and offered escort assistance as this ship sailed through rough waters off the coast of the disputed Senkaku Island Group.
“There are no challenges. In fact, both (Japanese and Chinese) offered us escort assistance,” said Capt. Estelito Lagadia Jr., skipper of BRP Tarlac.

Japan and China as well as Taiwan, which Beijing considers as a renegade province, are locked in a maritime and territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands.

Both countries have deployed sizeable coast guard vessels and sometimes even their respective gray ships in the area in support of their respective maritime and territorial claim over the disputed outcrops.

From the waters near Senkaku, three Japanese and two Chinese coast guard vessels maintained close but safe distance from each other, sailed alongside in an escort formation to this Vladivostok-bound Navy landing dock vessel as it plowed into big waves for almost a half a day.

Both coast guard vessels only broke from their escort formation and sailed separate ways when this landing dock ship was about to enter the Sea of Japan.

The Philippine Navy is sending a contingent aboard this ship to Russia’s premier port city of Vladivostok for a five-day goodwill visit.
The port visit is in response to the goodwill visits done by the Russian Navy to the Philippines this year and last year.

On the other hand, the presence of the Japanese and Chinese coast guard vessels was a welcome relief to everybody aboard, as it broke the monotony of the 10-day voyage where all that could be seen were the wide expanse of ocean and its big waves.

SOURCE : Philstar

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