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Philippine warship runs aground in disputed South China Sea

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine navy frigate has run aground on a shoal in the disputed South China Sea and efforts are underway to retrieve it and its crew, who were unhurt.

Military spokesman Col. Noel Detoyato said the BRP Gregorio del Pilar ran aground Wednesday night in the vicinity of the shoal, which the Philippines calls Hasa Hasa.

Co-exercise directors Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, center, commander of the 3rd U.S. Marine Expeditionary Forces, and Northern Luzon commander Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, left, unfurl a flag of the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise dubbed
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The barren shoal is known internationally as Half Moon Shoal and lies on the eastern edge of the hotly contested Spratly archipelago in the disputed sea.

Detoyato said late Thursday that Philippine ships "have already been mobilized to conduct assessment, retrieve the aground vessel and return her to safe harbor and assist all personnel aboard BRP del Pilar."

Crew members onboard Philippine Navy's BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15) frigate wave during the inaugural maritime review along the strait near Changi Naval Base in Singapore on May 15, 2017. (Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)
Crew members onboard Philippine Navy's BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15) frigate wave during the inaugural maritime review along the strait near Changi Naval Base in Singapore on May 15, 2017. (Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

The frigate is one of three former U.S. Coast Guard cutters which were acquired by the Philippine military from the United States and now are the Philippines' largest warships.

A military report seen by The Associated Press said the propellers of the frigate, which has more than 100 crewmembers, were damaged by the grounding. The crew checked the frigate after it ran aground and found it was not taking in water.

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