‘Made in China’ ship as mock target in Balikatan 'unintentional'

‘Made in China’ ship as mock target in Balikatan unintentional—PH Navy

By: - Reporter /
/ 05:42 PM April 23, 2024

The decommissioned Philippine Navy ship, which was supposed to be used as a mock target in the joint drills of American and Filipino soldiers before it ran aground in July, was already retrieved last month.

The Philippine Navy’s former BRP Lake Caliraya. Photo from the PCG

MANILA, Philippines—After earning the ire of Chinese state media, the Philippine Navy on Tuesday said the decision to use an old “made in China” ship as a mock target in the Balikatan war games was not intentional.

On May 8, the former BRP Lake Caliraya will be used as a mock target during Manila and Washington’s sinking exercise off Ilocos Norte, a coastal province near Taiwan, or the self-ruled island seen by Beijing as a renegade province subject to reunification.

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Chinese state-backed tabloid Global Times, in an editorial piece dated April 20, said the move to use the Chinese-made oil tanker as a target of both countries’ anti-ship missiles shows “clear provocative intent.”

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READ: Philippines, US plan mock enemy ship sinking near Taiwan

In reaction to this, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said in a regular press briefing: “It’s just coincidental; don’t put any meaning to that.”

Navy Chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. also shrugged off this objection.

“The vessel has been used in the Philippines for a long, long time. So, any attachment [with China], if ever there is any, doesn’t matter at all,” Adaci said.

Decommissioned in December 2020, BRP Lake Caliraya was the Navy’s first motor tanker, which it acquired from the Philippine National Oil Company.

READ: Intruder in Balikatan sinking exercise turns out to be local aircraft

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In July 2023, the former BRP Lake Caliraya ran aground off Bataan, but an American contractor retrieved the ship to be used for this exercise. A day before it ran aground, it was supposed to be used as a mock target for a bilateral marine exercise between Manila and Washington, but the drills were canceled due to inclement weather.

This is the second time the maritime sinking drills were conducted for Balikatan.

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Last year, a decommissioned Navy corvette called BRP Pangasinan sank off San Antonio town in Zambales or 235 kilometers away from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

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TAGS: Balikatan, China, Philippines, US

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