Vietnamese crew who rescued 22 Filipino fishermen at sea recount rescue, corroborate PHL fishermen’s account

A handout photo taken on June 14, 2019, and released on June 15 by the Philippine Coastguard shows Filipino fishermen on board the BRP Ramon Alcaraz on Occidental Mindoro. – Beijing confirmed on June 15, 2019 that a Chinese vessel hit a Philippine fishing boat in a collision which has increased tensions in the disputed South China Sea, but denied claims it was a “hit and run”. (Photo by HANDOUT / AFP)


(Eagle News) – The crew of a Vietnamese fishing vessel that rescued 11 Filipino fishermen adrift at sea said that the Filipinos they rescued were “clinging to plastic barrels and pieces of wood from the shipwreck” when they found them at Recto Bank.

The account, as reported by VN Express, a Vietnamese online newspaper, of the Vietnamese crew who rescued the Filipino fishermen matched the account of the Filipino victims left drifting at sea after their boat was hit by a Chinese fishing vessel.

In a report by the VN Express, the Vietnamese said that at about 1 a.m. on June 10, they were “awakened by the voices of foreigners.”

The crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel at first thought that the Filipinos in two small boats with no lights who were repeatedly making hand signals asking for help, were pirates.

The Vietnamese, with the use of flashlight, found the two small boats on the side of their ship.

The two Filipinos were “wet and shivering, so the people on the Tien Giang fishing boat surmised they were in distress.”

When the Filipinos were brought into the Vietnamese ship, they made hand signals that they had been in a shipwreck and that more of their companions were still at sea.

The captain of the Vietnamese ship, Captain Tam, then quickly anchored the ship, and headed towards the shipwreck which was about five nautical miles away, according to an account of the VN Express. It took them about an hour to arrive at the scene.

When they got there, they found “20 Filipino fishermen wearing life jackets, trying to cling to plastic barrels and pieces of wood chips from the shipwreck,” the report said.

“The victims were hungry and cold. They were quickly picked up by 10 Tien Giang fishermen, and were fed rice and shrimp noodles, which warmed them up after many hours struggling in the sea to keep their lives,” the report said.

Rescued Filipino fishermen transfer to another ship as they head back to shore in Occidental Mindoro province, Philippines on Friday June 14, 2019. The Philippines’ top diplomat said he has filed a diplomatic protest after an anchored fishing boat was hit by a suspected Chinese vessel which then abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen as the boat sank in the disputed South China Sea. (AP Photo)

The owner of the Vietnamese fishing vessel, Mr. Daung, said that this was the “first time my family’s ship has rescued another ship, especially a foreign ship.”

“I believe that anyone who goes to sea will make such a decision, not just us,” he said.
The Vietnamese allowed the Filipino fishermen to use their radio at around 5 a.m. so they can get help from their countrymen.

The sister boat of the Gim-Vir, the A/G Thanksgiving, picked the Filipino fishermen at around 2 p.m.

In this undated June 2019 handout photo provided Arlinda dela Torre via the Department of Agriculture, the damaged Filipino fishing boat F/B Gimver 1 lies on the shores at San Jose, Occidental Mindoro province, Philippines. China recently acknowledged its fishing vessel hit a Filipino boat in the disputed South China Sea in an incident that prompted an outcry in the Philippines but denies the collision was intentional. The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest after Filipino fishermen said a Chinese vessel rammed their anchored boat on Sunday night then abandoned them as the boat sank in the Reed Bank. (Department of Agriculture via AP)

According to the Tien Giang Fisheries Department in Vietnam, although Vietnamese fishing vessels had saved victims before at sea, this is the first time that the Vietnamese boat had rescued foreign fishermen in such an incident, the VN Express report said.

It said that Mr. Pham Anh Tuan, Vice Chairman of Tien Giang Provincial People’s Committee, also praised the actions of the Vietnamese fishermen in rescuing people in distress at sea.

Tuan, according to the Vietnamese news report, has “directed” giving the reward to the members of the Vietnamese fishing crew who rescued the Filipino fishermen whose boat was hit by a Chinese vessel.