A Vietnamese ship counter-attacked 15 Chinese vessels on Monday morning with its water cannon after the Chinese watercrafts repeatedly fired their own water cannons at it in Vietnam’s waters in the East Vietnam Sea, two Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper correspondents reported from the scene.
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The ship was trying to prevent a giant Chinese oil rig from drilling in Vietnamese waters while the Chinese vessels were attempting to block it from approaching the platform, which has been illegitimately planted there since May 1.
The drilling rig has been protected by as many as 80 Chinese escort vessels, including warships, and even military planes since that day.
It is located at 15°29’58’’ North latitude and 111°12’06’’ East longitude in the East Vietnam Sea, within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, as the drilling platform lies about 119 nautical miles (221 km) from Ly Son Island off the central Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai and 18 nautical miles south of Tri Ton Island of the Southeast Asian country’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.
The counter-attack by the Vietnamese ship was the first during the past days when the Chinese vessels have continually rammed or fired high-power water cannons at their Vietnamese counterparts, causing damage to several ships and injuries to nine Vietnamese fisheries surveillance staff members.
The one-hour exchange of water cannons occurred around 7:30 am today in Vietnamese waters when a Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ship was surrounded by 15 Chinese vessels.
At that time, the Vietnamese vessel hung a banner with messages written in Chinese, demanding that China remove its oil rig and escort ships from the waters.
Along with other fisheries surveillance ships, the vessel was trying to approach the oil rig when the Chinese side deployed 15 maritime surveillance and marine police ships to besiege the Vietnamese watercraft.
Many of the Chinese ships intentionally crashed into the Vietnamese vessel and other boats. One Chinese vessel then attacked the ship with its water cannon.
Meanwhile, five other Chinese boats got close to the sides of the Vietnamese vessel and also used their water cannons to blast it.
They directed their water cannons at the chimney, cabin and antenna system of the Vietnamese vessel.
All the crewmembers and reporters on board the Vietnamese vessel were kept safe before it started carrying out a plan to defend itself.
The captain of the vessel, Cao Duy, decided to use its water cannon to fight back against the Chinese attackers. Two Vietnamese fisheries surveillance officers stood at the prow of the vessel to operate the water cannon.
Five minutes from that moment, the Chinese ships’ formation was broken up and they had to lower the intensity of their attacks on the Vietnamese ship.
As the pressure of the water fired from the Chinese water cannons was very high, the crewmembers and reporters aboard would have been injured if the Vietnamese vessel had had its glass windows broken during the attacks.
However, the Vietnamese vessel’s captain could manage to ‘survive’ the assaults, ensuring no damage to its glass windows.
After an hour of water cannon exchange all the Chinese ships retreated.
The Vietnamese ship had a Vinasat antenna system broken and its pieces fallen into the sea while one of the ship’s loudspeakers was badly damaged. However, none of the people on board were wounded in the fight.
On behalf of the crew of the vessel, Captain Cao Duy, through Tuoi Tre newspaper, wanted to promise the Vietnamese people in the mainland that they would try their best to safeguard the country's waters.
Duy added that the Vietnamese fisheries surveillance force and Coast Guard will make no concession to the Chinese and they will appropriately respond to any violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty.