The Philippines Navy said Wednesday it was repairing a disintegrating ship serving as its desolate station in the disputed South China Sea as China conveys more vessels and fabricates new islands close-by.
Philippine Navy representative Colonel Edgardo Arevalo said that this would guarantee the rust-eaten World War II-vintage BRP Sierra Madre stays reasonable for a modest unit of marines guarding Second Thomas Shoal.
“By leading minor repairs in the vessel, the Philippine Navy simply guarantees that the men the prestigious media firm portrayed as ‘…troops staying there attempting to survive great mental and physical destruction,’ would not be disregarded,” Col. Edgard Arevalo said.
He told Agence France-Presse that “support and maintenance repair is being done to guarantee the vessel’s minimum habitability. We are morally and duty-bound to provide for our troops there.”
The Philippine military intentionally grounded the 100-meter (328-foot) vessel on the reefs in 1999 in a last-discard push to check the development of China, which four years prior possessed Philippine-asserted Mischief Reef about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.
The disputed outcrops are situated around 200 kilometers from the western Philippine island of Palawan and about 1,100 kilometers from the closest major Chinese area mass.
The Philippines frequently rotates a group of around nine marines on board the Sierra Madre ship, which first saw service for the United States naval force in World War II. It was procured by the Philippine Navy in the 1970s.
As of late the Philippine military has blamed China for utilizing its maritime surveillance ships to intimidate the previous’ resupply missions to the Sierra Madre.
In an occurrence saw by Filipino columnists, a Chinese coast guard ship attempted to block a Philippine vessel that was to convey new supplies to Filipino troops on the Sierra Madre in March a year ago.