PH starts runway repair in Spratlys


The Philippines has finally started the long overdue repairs for the runway on Pagasa Island (Thitu) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Satellite images from May 17 show two barges anchored off the western edge of Pagasa’s “crumbling airstrip,” the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (Amti) said Saturday.

“It appears that a grab dredger, consisting of a crane with a clamshell bucket, is installed on the smaller barge to the west, while the other carries a backhoe. Loose sediment from dredging can be seen in the water around the two barges and freshly-deposited sand is visible along the northern edge of the runway,” Amti said.

The think tank said that this method of dredging is similar to what Vietnam has been doing at some of its outposts.

“While still harmful to the marine environment, it affects surrounding reefs at a smaller scale and is far less environmentally destructive than the suction cutter dredging undertaken by China, which destroyed thousands of acres of reef from late 2013 to early 2017,” it said.