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Philippines, Taiwan use naval code in sea encounter

/ 10:29 PM April 26, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine Navy ship and its Taiwanese counterpart practiced a naval code in a recent unplanned meeting at sea.

BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17) exchanged signals with Taiwanese Navy ship Wu Chang (FFG-1205) at the northern tip of Mavulis Island, Batanes, the Philippine Navy said in a statement on Friday.

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 Philippines, Taiwan practice naval code in sea encounter

The Philippine warship was on its way to Busan, South Korea for the Maritime Security Field Training Exercises.

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Both navies practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), an agreement signed by 21 countries in 2014, establishing procedures to keep incidents from escalating or becoming a full-blown confrontation.

During the exchanges last Wednesday, both ships exchanged communications through radio while in transit in high seas and in proximity with one another.

“Although not legally binding, it is a coordinated means that covers standardized protocol of safety and maneuvering instructions that naval ships and naval aircraft follows during unplanned encounters with other navy ships and aircraft in the maritime commons,” the Navy said.

International maritime expert Collin Koh said on Twitter that the encounter was “interesting” because Taiwan is not one of the 21 countries signatories to CUES yet it has implemented it.

Even so, he said it was not strange since the guidelines in the naval code “are not alien to navies worldwide.”

Another reason why it was noteworthy was because it happened in the context of Manila building a fishermen’s shelter in Batanes.

The ongoing construction of the shelter in Mavulis Island, the northernmost part of Batanes, is expected to be finished next month.

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The Philippines and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the northern Philippines and the West Philippine Sea. /gsg

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