A Chinese government survey ship, Da Yang Hao, has been accused of illegal activities in Palau’s waters. Palau is a small island nation, strategically located between the Philippine Sea and the North Pacific. Using ship tracking data provided by MarineTraffic.com we can confirm that the Chinese vessel was operating in Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Based on the vessel involved, the survey could relate to undersea hydrocarbon or mineral resources. Alternatively, it could be a sea-bottom mapping missions or gathering data on the waters. The data could have a dual civilian and military use and is particularly relevant for submarine warfare. In any case it would need permission from Palau’s government to operate there.
In spite of its presence bein challenged, the ship appears to have conducted its activity unimpeded. It was there for 5 days, from November 29 until December 4, 2021.
Local authorities raised their concerns, as reported by the Island Times on December 3. Palau’s Maritime Security and Fish & Wildlife Protection (DMSFWP) were keeping track of it, but had been unable to act. Palau requested assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard.