PH Navy tows Malaysia barge away from shoal
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command (AFP Wescom) announced on Friday it has removed an abandoned cargo barge with Malaysian registry in the disputed West Philippine Sea near Hasa Hasa (Half Moon) Shoal, which is being occupied by a small unit of Philippine Marines.
An advisory released by Wescom on Friday said an abandoned Malaysian barge —Hub 18—was towed to the Naval Forces West Headquarters in Ulugan Bay by BRP Bacolod City (LC 550).
The statement said the barge was first sighted by Filipino fishermen drifting near Hasa-Hasa Shoal and was found by an Islander aircraft of the Philippine Navy on Thursday some 22 nautical miles northeast of Abad Santos Shoal.
Wescom sent BRP Bacolod City to the area to tow the cargo barge to Ulugan Bay, arriving there on Friday morning.
Wescom said it had established contact with the company that owns the vessel and learned that its crew was earlier rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat.
The crew had been brought to Kota Kinabalu, according to Wescom, quoting the barge owner.
Wescom also quoted the owner as saying another barge would be sent to Ulugan Bay to tow the abandoned barge to Malaysia.
The barge was loaded with container vans filled with used cars and parts, frozen fish and personal effects.