Three fishermen are dead after their boat was rammed by an unidentified vessel near the contested Scarborough Shoal off the coast of the Phillippines, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.
The ramming of FFB Dearyn occurred 85 nautical miles northwest of Bajo De Masinloc at 4:20 a.m.on Monday local time. While 11 of the fishermen were able to escape on smaller boats, three, including the boat’s captain, were killed in the incident, according to an incident report reviewed by USNI News.
The survivors recovered the dead and reported the encounter on Tuesday morning to a Philippine Coast Guard sub-station near Infanta, Pangasinan on the main island of Luzon.
“One crew of FFB Dearyn shared that it occurred around 4:20a.m. on Oct. 2, 2023 while their mother boat was moored to [fishing raft] for fishing 85 nautical miles northwest of [Bajo de Masinloc],” reads a copy of the incident report.
“The mother boat submerged, resulting in the death of its three crew members, including its boat captain. The 11 crew members who survived the maritime incident utilized their eight service boats to leave the vicinity waters and transport the deceased victims to Barangay Cato, Infanta, Pangasinan.”
We are deeply saddened by the deaths of the three fishermen, including the captain of the fishing vessel. The incident is still under investigation to ascertain the details and circumstances surrounding the collision between the fishing boat and a still unidentified commercial… pic.twitter.com/VKe1eUkiIy
— Bongbong Marcos (@bongbongmarcos) October 4, 2023
Philippine President BongBong Marcos released photos of the dead fishermen in a social media post. In the post, he said an investigation into the incident by the Philippine Coast Guard was underway. He urged the public to “refrain from engaging in speculation.” Marcos further assured that the perpetrators of this “unfortunate maritime incident” would be held accountable. The Philippine Coast Guard also advised the shipowners to file a maritime protest.
Scarborough Shoal has been the location of several standoffs between Manila and Chinese maritime militia and China Coast Guard. The latest occurred last month when the Philippines cut down a barrier put up by China that blocked off an entrance to the shoal. China claims Scarborough Shoal as part of its Nine-Dash Line, which encompasses most of the South China Sea. In 2016, Beijing rejected a ruling fromthat supported the Philippines claim to the feature.
A similar incident took place in 2019 at Reed Bank, which saw the Filipino fishing boat F/B Gem-Ver sunk after being rammed by the Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone. Unlike Monday’s incident, all of Gem-Ver’s fishermen survived and were recovered by Vietnamese vessels.
Meanwhile, the Philippines and U.S. kicked off the 7th iteration of Exercise SamaSama in Manila on Monday. These year’s drills are set to be the largest to date, involving participants from multiple nations and activities off Luzon. The American contingent for the exercise includes USS Dewey (DDG-105), USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8), USNS Yukon (T-AO 202), and a P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
The following is the complete Oct. 3, 2023, incident report from the Philippine Coast Guard.
On October 2, 2023, at approximately 4:20AM, Filipino Fishing Boat (FFB) DEARYN was involved in an accident where it was rammed by a foreign commercial vessel.
The incident occurred while the FFB was moored at its payaw, located approximately 85 NM northwest off Bajo de Masinloc or 180 NM from Agno, Pangasinan.
The collision resulted in three casualties out of the FFB’s 14 crew members.
According to a survivor’s account, on October 2, 2023, at around 4:20AM, while FFB DEARYN was moored at their payao, eight of its fisherfolk crew members were engaged in fishing ventures at different locations, while six crew members, including the boat captain, remained on the mother boat.
Due to the adverse weather conditions causing darkness, the crew on board the mother boat failed to detect an unidentified vessel approaching, resulting in a collision that caused the mother boat to capsize.
Three casualties, including the boat captain, were reported from the incident.