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Vietnam issues diplomatic note to Malaysia after South China Sea collision

A file image of KM Arau , which collided into a Vietnamese fishing vessel on 22 April. (MMEA)

Hanoi has issued a diplomatic note to Putrajaya after a Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) vessel collided into a Vietnamese fishing boat in disputed waters of the South China Sea, multiple sources close to the matter confirmed to Janes .

Vessels involved in the collision are the MMEA's sole Arau (Nojima)-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) KM Arau and an unnamed fishing boat with pennant number 90729.

The collision took place on 22 April at about 15 n miles southeast of Investigator Shoal, which lies within the Spratly Islands cluster. The feature is occupied by Malaysia, but also claimed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan as part of their respective maritime territories.

As a result of the collision, 22 fishermen from 90729 fell overboard and a search-and-rescue operation (SAR) was established by both the Vietnamese and Malaysian authorities.

The MMEA, also referred to in-country as the Malaysia Coast Guard, deployed a Bombardier CL-415MP aircraft to assist in the SAR. Also deployed for the operation was the Royal Malaysian Navy's first-of-class Jerong-class fast attack craft, KD Jerong .

Among those that fell overboard, 17 fishermen were rescued by other Vietnamese fishing vessels in the area. Five others were rescued by Arau and brought to Kota Kinabalu, East Malaysia, for medical attention, Janes was informed.

Janes also understands that Jerong remains on-station near Investigator Shoal at the time of publication. Vietnamese government vessels, including at least one navy vessel, are also on site where the collision occurred but the identities of these ships cannot be immediately confirmed.

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