Fri, May 17, 2013 - Page 3 News List

TAIPEI-MANILA ROW: Navy, coast guard hold joint drill to protect fishermen

Staff writer, with CNA

An S-70C surveillance helicopter takes off from the deck of a Lafayette-class frigate during a joint military drill held in the Bashi Channel yesterday.

Photo: Sam Yeh, AFP

Navy and Coast Guard Administration (CGA) personnel conducted a joint drill yesterday in waters south of Taiwan to show the government’s determination to protect Taiwanese fishermen operating there, following the killing of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in waters where the exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines overlap.

The drill saw navy and CGA personnel demonstrating cooperation in maritime rescue operations and protecting Taiwan’s fishing rights.

Before the drill, the warship Ma Kong, a Kidd-class destroyer, also crossed the 20° north latitude line, in waters near the location of the shooting.

It was the first time the 10,500 tonne warship had entered the area to assist the CGA in guarding Taiwanese fishermen, the navy said.

The CGA said it usually goes as far south as 20° north to protect local fishing boats.

That boundary may now change.

Two other military vessels — both Lafayette-class frigates — also took part in the drill.

The exercise included a simulation of an operation in which an S-70C rescue helicopter was dispatched from Taiwan to airlift a fisherman following a man overboard emergency. The drill also incorporated an anti-submarine S-70C helicopter from one of the frigates, which conducted a patrol mission. Two Mirage 2000-5 jet fighters were also deployed from the Hsinchu Airbase to take part in the exercise.

The navy said it has beefed up its protection of Taiwanese fishermen operating in the area by sending more frigates and expanding the area of their patrols.

The CGA has also dispatched more vessels to patrol the area. The Kidd-class destroyer and one of the Lafayette-class frigates set sail on Wednesday from Greater Kaohsiung to take part in the exercise.

After the joint drill with the CGA, the destroyer went ahead with its own exercises, which included a simulated launch of two surface-to-air Standard Missile-2 it had on board.

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