My Tho was one of the flotilla of thirty-five Republic of Vietnam Navy ships that sailed for Subic Bay after the fall of Saigon in April 1975. He made sure his soldiers kept busy, and that their reflexes stayed sharp. [7][8], In September 2014, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, reporting for the BBC, visited Sierra Madre which remained blockaded by the Chinese coastguard. ABOARD BRP SIERRA MADRE, Spratly Islands – On board the crumbling carcass of this World War II-era warship, Filipino marine 1st Lt. Mike Pelotera and his eight men make their way to a mid-level deck to raise the Philippine flag up a leaning pole and then salute it. “Ano kaya ang susunod na gagawin nito? But he did not have time to reminisce. Baka yung tinatapakan mo ay maaaring ikaka-disgrasya mo (Before you can go jogging above and below deck. But what was happening in front of them was too important to ignore. Ako ba’y haharangin palabas? The USS LST-821, renamed the USS Harnett County (LST-821), USS Harnett County (AGP-821), My Tho HQ-800 (Vietnam) and finally LT 57 Sierra Madre (Philippine Navy) was an LST-542-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. China explains its historic and legal basis for its claim over the Spratly Islands. The Philippine Marines stood on deck, feet planted on portions of the floor of the BRP Sierra Madre that were not corroded, eyes glued to the three white figures dancing at sea. At portside, bold words were spray-painted for all to see, But one wall, in a room below deck, captured an emotion that no soldier would ever dare own up to. The BRP Sierra Madre. I sweat it out, I do sit-ups, biking, different ways to keep me busy).”, They hold VCD movie nights on deck on their small television, too. He was referring to a small Philippine vessel that was trying to outmaneuver two China Coast Guard ships. Ferdinand Gato chose not to sleep that night. The loneliest warship in the world isn’t going away any time soon. When the nine Marines watching from the BRP Sierra Madre saw the Chinese vessels make a sharp change in course, they knew what the target was. [5] This was the first time that Chinese forces had interfered with resupply. It insists that the Spratly Islands do not lie within the boundary of Philippine territory as delimited by international treaties including the Treaty of Peace between the United States and Spain in 1898. )," called a voice from below. Hila! During World War II, LST-821 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto from April through June 1945. China has said that the Philippines’ push for international arbitration has undermined the relations between the two countries. Ayungin Shoal is our position. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS, all areas situated within these 200 nautical miles belong to that country’s exclusive economic zone. Philippine Marines pictured at BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014. LST-821 returned to the United States and was decommissioned in March 1946 and assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. LST-821 earned one battle star for World War II service. It is also significant that the DFA statement stressed that BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned “commissioned Philippine Naval Vessel.” A country’s navy ship is considered part of its territory. + Follow BRP Sierra Madre Tag . The China Coast Guard vessel 1127 closed in on Philippine vessel AM700 from behind. The BRP Sierra Madre. In 1999, the Philippine Navy intentionally ran her aground on the Second Thomas Shoal in order to maintain the Philippine's territorial claim in the area. By TrendingThisMinute Team - October 28, 2015. One navy woman ran to the starboard side of the old ship, and with a triumphant shout, jumped into the clear waters below. `Yan ang misyon ng Armed Forces (that is the mission of the Armed Forces), to protect the people and the sovereignty of the state.”. It was a P-8 Poseidon, owned by the United States Navy, and one of several US aircraft the Filipino contingent had observed throughout the voyage. 329 days ago. This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The Marines squinted as the second Chinese ship - Coast Guard vessel 3401 – arrived to position itself in front of the AM700. The ship was launched on 27 October 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Hugh Robertson, Sr.. LST-821 was commissioned on 14 November 1944 with Lieutenant C. J. Rudine, USNR, in command. According to local media, two Chinese Coast Guard vessels on Saturday, March 29, tried to block the Philippine government civilian ship from bringing troops and supplies to the small military detachment aboard the BRP Sierra Madre. (Getty … SHARES. These nine sections are found within 200 nautical miles off Palawan. The Philippines immediately replied that it will do whatever it can to remove the ships. Across the calm, turquoise waters, two Chinese coast guard ships lurk, looking on. They had seen this happen before – on March 9, to be exact, when a previous mission sent to extricate them from Ayungin was blocked and driven out of the shoal by similar Chinese vessels. Gaping holes riddled its 100-meter length. As for BRP Sierra Madre, the chief-of-staff ruled out repairing and re-floating the vessel as it is beyond economical repair. USS LST-821 was laid down on 19 September 1944 at Evansville, Indiana by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company. You can’t even look at it because it’s so old).”, He walked out onto the deck, but the decay was the same. For so many years China has been waiting for BRP Sierra Madre to disintegrate and even offered some assistance for the removal of that ship away from the Ayungin shoal. Hindi matanggal `yun sa isipan ko (What will this ship do next? Brp sierra madre. 1st Lt. Pelotera said that the biggest challenge in Ayungin Shoal was making sure the spirit of his men did not disintegrate like the ship they lived in. Manila keeps military presence in the area through BRP Sierra Madre, which ran aground on the shoal in 1999. The government has spoken: the Philippine Navy's BRP Sierra Madre will remain as the country's an outpost on the Ayungin Shoal, despite the sorry state of the grounded vessel, which has been in the disputed area since 1999. Galvan and the other Marines could sense the urgency in the China Coast Guard’s movement. Journalists took in its impressive size, and tried to imagine what it once looked like. Back in the mainland, they will come to be known as the Ayungin 9, and awarded bronze crosses for bravery, as the defenders of the West Philippine Sea. Ito, mamamatay `yung bida. The ship, BRP Sierra Madre, was purposely grounded by the Philippine Navy to serve as an outpost in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) after China had grabbed and occupied the Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in 1995. 353. First, the disputes between China and the Philippines are principally territorial disputes over islands, which are not covered by the [UNCLOS]. The soldier is unnamed. USS LST-821, renamed USS Harnett County (LST-821/AGP-281), was an LST-542-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. Soon, Ltsg Gato’s mission would be officially complete. But none of them made a move this time. Several times, the beam would shine on the AM700, so bright that it could illuminate the ship from kilometers away. [4], On 11 March 2014, the Philippine government protested to the Chinese chargé d'affaires in Manilla that the Chinese Coast Guard had on 9 March prevented two civilian vessels hired by the Philippine Navy from exchanging personnel on, and delivering supplies to, Sierra Madre. A boodle fight of canned sardines was served, as both a sendoff to the old and welcome to the new. Twitter. Museum in Manila, Philippines. Chinese ships patrolling Ayungin, Panatag 'want to be seen' — think tank. + Follow BRP Sierra Madre Tag . “Kasi napakagrabe na. No one would confirm exactly why they were there, and who exactly they were showing themselves to. In the embassy’s statement, China claims that “the Philippine side has been playing up the issue of Ren'ai Reef [Ayungin Shoal], playing cards of sympathy everywhere, and including the issue into the so-called international arbitration, with an aim to gather sympathy and trust of the international community and legalize its occupation of the Ren'ai Reef.” China says the Philippines has been using the cover of reprovision of supplies to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre in its attempt to build facilities on the reef. Since then a detachment of Filipino marines have been continuously stationed on board Sierra Madre to provide a military presence at the site. People on the AM700 cheered because they made it past the Chinese blockade without damage or injury. That night, a bright beam of light shone from the Chinese ship at the back of the BRP Sierra Madre. ", Aside from bilateral negotiations, China favors “joint development” in the Spratly Islands which, China says, shows its sincerity and good faith. The Marines knew a chase was about to happen. Followers 0. Facebook. Makeshift benches were set up on the starboard side, so they could talk while watching the sunset. But out on Ayungin Shoal that day, the celebration had very little to do with the geopolitics of it all. -- by Paul Henson, ABS-CBNnews.com. SHARE. By TrendingThisMinute Team - October 28, 2015. “Bini-briefing ko yung troops ko, dapat [matatag yung] mindset niyo (I brief the troops, they have to stay mentally strong),” said Pelotera, who would mentally prepare them for the possibility of a longer stay. Oh, the Philippines, you so crazy. While everyone was busy hauling supplies and taking photographs, Gato quietly made his way to his former cabin. According to some Navy personnel interviewed by Apolinario in 2002, the grounding of BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal in 1999 was an accident. Ibig sabihin, ako yung in charge sa cargo, sa baril, at panatilihing maganda yung barko (I was assigned as deck and gunnery officer. “Na-memorize na namin `yung mga linya. USS LST-821, renamed USS Harnett County (LST-821/AGP-281), was an LST-542-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. Harnett County participated in the following campaigns: She was redesignated a Patrol Craft Tender, USS Harnett County (AGP-821) in the spring of 1970, but then was decommissioned 12 October 1970 at Guam. "Pasok na 'yan, sabi ko, nung nakarating na ng bahura (the ship has made it through once it reaches the reef)," said Galvan. She was transferred to South Vietnam's Republic of Vietnam Navy, which named her RVNS My Tho (HQ-800). In 1989, it was deployed to Mactan to restore order when Air Force Brig. West Philippine Sea; BRP Sierra Madre. The loneliest warship in the world isn’t going away any time soon. All Rights Reserved. West Philippine Sea; BRP Sierra Madre. It was not lost on the group at sea that the resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal came on the eve of the Philippines’ submission of the memorial to the arbitral tribunal. He did not stay there long. Beijing continues to assert ownership over the vast majority of the South China Sea despite a 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated its 9-dash line claim. He introduced himself with a stern voice, but the lieutenant's emotions soon betrayed him. "[9], In July 2015, Philippine Navy spokesman Colonel Edgardo Arevalo said that they are currently doing maintenance repair on the ship to ensure the vessel's minimum habitability.[10]. I’ve seen it so many times).”, “May gym din kami (we also have a gym),” volunteered Private First Class Ryan Esteban. In 1999 the Philippine government deliberately had her run aground on Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands to serve as an outpost of the Philippine Marine Corps to assert Philippine sovereignty in the country's dispute with China over the ownership of the Spratly Islands. But among the group, one pair of eyes looked at the BRP Sierra Madre with familiarity and nostalgia only he could understand. In a statement posted by the Chinese Embassy ‘s spokesperson in Manila Zhang Hua on the embassy’s website, China reiterated that it does not accept arbitration because it wants to resolve the dispute through bilateral negotiations. Following the War, she performed occupation duty in the Far East until early December 1945. China Coast Guard ships had been fixtures in the West Philippine Sea for months now, patrolling the waters. The large aircraft zipped past the Chinese coast guard, over the AM700, and over the Philippine flag on the BRP Sierra Madre. SHARE. The Spratlys have been coveted for the rich oil and natural gas deposits they are believed to contain. After the Vietnam War, Harnett County was transferred to the Philippine Navy, which named her BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57). Six nations – the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and China – all claim various portions of the Spratlys. Gato’s mission was clearly not over yet. Magpapapawis ako dyan, magsi-sit-ups, magba-bike, sabay gawa na naman ng ibang pagkaka-aliwan (Some troops go fishing and make dried fish to bring as presents to their families. Second, according to the Convention, in case of disputes over territory, maritime delineation and historic title or rights, a signatory to the Convention may refuse to accept the jurisdiction of any international justice or arbitration as long as it makes a declaration. A VCD with karaoke songs was on standby for especially gloomy nights. In 2013, The New York Times visited the site and reported on the life of the handful of marines stationed there, and the vessel's role in the geopolitics of the South China Sea. The ship was described as in a poor condition: "The ship’s sides are peppered with massive holes. That Lt. Gato knew of the ship’s battle-tested history, and once felt its power under his own two feet, made it harder for the navy man to look at his ship’s current state. Dapat taon [ang iisipin niyo] (you have to think as if we’re staying here not just for a few months, but years).”, Throughout their stay, though, Pelotera said it was the clarity of their mission that kept the soldiers standing tall. The visitors who walked across the length of the Sierra Madre viewed the ship with more than a hint of sorrow. Ang daily routine ko, radio man. Furthermore, China insists it “has every right not to accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines… the framework of the [UNCLOS] is not applicable to all maritime issues. The aging ship has been aground on the disputed shoal, which is known On 13 March, the Philippines conducted an aerial resupply mission to the marines. She was named for Harnett County, North Carolina and was the only U.S. Before deliberately being run aground in Ayungin Shoal in 1999, the BRP Sierra Madre, also known as the LT 57 (landing ship tank) used to serve as a hospital ship for troops in battle, and transport for soldiers headed for combat. Kasi anytime, kayang-kaya nila tayong tirisin, na hindi naman tayo papayag (I can only say mission accomplished once we reach the mainland. Sturgeon 3,941 Sturgeon 3,941 Tough … She was stranded, and it was certain the ship could not be removed under her own power. A Chinese Coast Guard ship had blocked the path of three Philippine civilian vessels on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. There was nothing on the BRP Sierra Madre that had not been eaten by the salt in the air and the sun overhead. Napanood ko na ito, paulit-ulit na lang (we know the lines already. “Ako’y nalungkot (I’m saddened),” admitted the mission head. It was a Styrofoam buoy wrapped in red Christmas lights. Vessel 3401 moved in even closer, and blocked the AM700’s path a second time. Naval vessel to bear the name. “Masasabi kong tapos na `yung misyon, kung ako’y naka-landing na sa mainland. It was eventually transferred to the Philippine navy, which deliberately grounded it on Second Thomas Shoal to mark Manila’s claim to the reef in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea. Waves slosh through them right into the ship’s hold. In 1993, Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade Ferdinand Gato – the head of the Ayungin mission- rode this very ship across Philippine waters. But it remains to be seen who will emerge victorious in the confrontations to come. Four landing ship tanks were recommissioned to support river patrol operations with the intent of keeping three ships on-station at any one time supporting a River Division of 10 Patrol Boat, River (PBR), a Detachment of two UH-1B helicopter gunships and a SEAL Platoon. By Sturgeon, November 22, 2014 in Naval Discussion. The ship was grounded in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to guard the shoal after China occupied Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) in 1995. That means Manila could request U.S. military assistance under … Die Philippinen verteidigen ihre Ansprüche auf Teile der Spratly-Inseln von einem verrotteten Schiffswrack aus. Manila keeps military presence in the area through BRP Sierra Madre, which ran aground on the shoal in 1999. Like children rushing to meet their parents at the door, the Marines ran to the BRP Sierra Madre’s portside, cheering and applauding the AM700, the white of their teeth shimmering through their unshaven faces. After the Vietnam War, Harnett County was transferred to the Philippine Navy, which named her china; philippines; Reply to this topic; Start new topic; Recommended Posts. The Poseidon is a combat and surveillance aircraft, capable of covert intelligence gathering at altitudes as high as forty thousand feet. At this time supplies for the garrison of 11 Filipino marines were dropped by air. Download this stock image: The BRP Sierra Madre, a marooned transport ship which Philippine Marines live on as a military outpost, is pictured in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea March 30, 2014. As the Marines whooped and waved at the visitors, the platoon leader stood quietly at the top of the ladder, helping people aboard. 329 days ago. But in the dark of the ship, his words rang in silent rage. The Chinese Coast Guard vessels pulled back, and the Philippine ship was finally able to enter the shallow waters of Ayungin. Second Thomas Shoal, or Ayungin as referred to by the Philippines, is within the disputed Spratly Islands. Beijing continues to assert ownership over the vast majority of the South China Sea despite a 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated its 9-dash line claim. Halos hindi mo na kayang tingnan sa kalumaan (the condition is so poor. There were old mattresses over old beds, with mosquito nets dangling overhead. The two China Coast Guard ships that had chased the Philippine group had taken positions surrounding Ayungin – one behind the stern, the other at portside. Now you have to avoid stepping on dangerous areas).”. Pull! The date alone made it apparent how the voyage was more than a mere resupply and troop rotation. The memorial, and the success of the March 29 mission, would now make it more difficult for succeeding Philippine missions to Ayungin Shoal. The room was dark, save for some sunlight coming in from a hole in the wall, and the glow of a red ball hanging over their pillows. Philippine Navy's BRP Sierra Madre has been stationed on Second Thomas or Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea since 1999. Facebook. It was a trip that sought to encapsulate all that the memorial was to contain: Chinese aggression; Philippine determination; Caught on camera. I can’t shake this off my mind).”. “Malabo na naman yata tayong masundo ah (the chances that we will be picked up from here look dim),” said Marine Sergeant Edwin Galvan, the ship’s medic. BRP Sierra Madre. Sierra Madre Casino, a fictional location in the Fallout: New Vegas video game; BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57), a Philippine navy ship formerly USS Harnett County, deliberately run aground on the Spratly Islands; See also. 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