MANILA – The Philippines commissioned into service three Japan-made patrol ships on Monday, adding to the three already received from Japan for the country's coast guard fleet. The 44-meter ships are part of a 10-ship building contract awarded to Japan Marine United Corp. by the Department of Transportation through an official development assistance loan from Japan totaling 7.37 billion pesos ($145 million). The new ships, commissioned at a ceremony to mark the Philippine Coast Guard's 116th founding anniversary in Manila, have a cruising speed of 46 kph and feature fire monitors, a night-vision camera, radio direction finder and a bulletproof navigational bridge. The Philippine Coast Guard commissioned the first three of the 10 ships in October and December of last year, and in March. The remaining four ships are expected to be delivered to the coast guard by the end of next year.
The vessels, including one equipped with what appeared to be machine guns, entered the waters around the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea at around 9:50 a.m. and left about 90 minutes later after warned off by the Japan Coast Guard. The intrusion was the first of the year for the China Coast Guard. Chinese vessels last entered Japanese waters on Dec. 30. China has stepped up its claim to the uninhabited islets since the Japanese government purchased most of them from a private Japanese owner and effectively nationalized them in 2012.
Coast Guard officials said they were called Monday morning about the two brothers, who had been out fishing when their boat engine died. While the brothers worked on the inoperable pump, the boat drifted and struck the range light, according to a Coast Guard statement. The brothers tied their boat off to the light and were forced to cling to the navigation aid and call for help when the vessel sank. A boat from Coast Guard station St. Petersburg rescued the men.
Under the bill, approved 94-6 and sent to the House for consideration, the Environmental Protection Agency would set national rules for ballast and other water discharges while the Coast Guard would enforce them. An earlier version backed by industry would have put the Coast Guard in charge of regulation and exempted ballast from the Clean Water Act, which environmentalists feared would result in weaker requirements for treating the water before it's released.