There has been no sighting of any Chinese research vessel near the Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday.
“Contrary to some published reports regarding the Chinese Research Vessel (CRV) Hai Da Hao, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Northern Luzon Command has reported that the said vessel has not been spotted near Bajo de Masinloc as alleged,” Lorenzana said in a statement.
Based on the verification of the one-year historical track of the Hai Da Hao, the vessel neither passed through nor entered the area of responsibility of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon, he added.
“In addition, CRV Hai Da Hao is currently monitored at 30 nautical miles south of Huidong Xian, Huizhou Shi, China,” Lorenzana said.
Reports quoted Ryan Martinson, an assistant professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute – US Naval War College, as saying that the Chinese research vessel was recently spotted off the coast of Zambales.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Martinson said the Chinese ship “Hai Da Hao” is currently operating “65 nm (nautical miles) east of Scarborough Shoal.”
He added that the ship is operated by the China Ocean University.