AFP mulls airdrop, other ways to bring supplies to BRP Sierra Madre crew | Global News

AFP mulls airdrop, other ways to bring supplies to BRP Sierra Madre crew

/ 01:26 PM August 11, 2023

AFP is considering airdrop and other ways to bring supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre crew

FILE PHOTO: A China Coast Guard ship (upper left) is seen near the Philippine Navy’s BRP Sierra Madre as the Philippine Coast Guard conducts aerial surveillance at Sabina and Ayungin Shoals in the West Philippine Sea on February 21, 2023. INQUIRER/NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine military is seriously thinking about other means to deliver supplies for the grounded BRP Sierra Madre crew on Ayungin Shoal – even via airlift – if boats fail to proceed in the West Philippine Sea.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (Wescom) commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said they are due to conduct another resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in two weeks because only one of two boats was able to proceed to bring the supplies to the crew last Saturday. The other boat returned to Puerto Princesa City.


On August 5, a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel near Ayungin Shoal attacked Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels escorting the two boats in the West Philippine Sea with a water cannon, a type that is among the world’s strongest, according to a Philippine official.


“Everything is being considered, [like] airdrop [operations],” Carlos said in a press conference at Wescom headquarters in Puerto Princesa City.

“The bottom line is, we need to resupply them,” he added.

In 2014, the AFP evaded a Chinese sea blockade by using an airplane to drop food to the crew of BRP Sierra Madre.

READ: Navy crew in resupply mission in BRP Sierra Madre says ‘they were unarmed’

According to Carlos, the rotation and resupply (Rore) mission is being conducted every month. But since only one of the boats could proceed and deliver supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre crew last August 5, another Rore will be conducted sometime this month. The next Rore would use the same boats.

“Since only half made it to the ship, we need to do another run for the supplies in two weeks’ time, earliest next week, hopefully,” he said.


“We’ll be using the same boats. I inspected them recently. There is no great damage; they’re good to go,” added Carlos, head of the AFP’s unified command that oversees Kalayaan Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

The BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned Philippine Navy vessel that has hosted a small contingent of military personnel since 1999 to assert Manila’s claim to Ayungin Shoal, a low-tide elevation about 194 kilometers off Palawan province that is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

China’s actions are anchored on its assertion that it owns almost all of the areas in the South China Sea – including the West Philippine Sea – through its nine-dash line.

However, the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim in July 2016 – a historic decision favoring the Philippines’ stand in the South China Sea row.

The Philippines initiated the arbitral case against China before the Netherlands-based PCA in January 2013, asserting maritime entitlements and challenging the validity of Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea.


AFP chief visits Palawan troops in wake of China’s water cannon attack

AFP chief: Gov’t plans to deploy naval reservists to counter Chinese maritime militia in WPS

Wescom ready to comply with fund requirements for BRP Sierra Madre’s refurbishment

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