Warships from Burma and Bangladesh Patrolling Near Disputed Sea

Two warships from Burma and Bangladesh are taking patrols, coming close to confronting each other near the disputed sea in the Bay of Bengal.

This confrontation of naval ships from both friendly neighbors is the second in four years after the first one occurred in 2008 when Korea’s Daewoo, escorted by Burmese naval ships encroached into disputed waters for hydrocarbon exploration.

A source from Bangladesh Intelligence told Narinjara that Bangladesh has sent one of its ships to safeguard its own territory, as a Burmese ship has started patrolling the sea close to its territories over the last week.

“It has been already few days since a Burmese naval ship started patrolling the sea close to our territorial waters, so we had to send one of our ships last week in order to safeguard our own territories”, said an official from Bangladesh Intelligence, on condition of anonymity.

A Burmese fisherman also said that they have seen the two naval ships patrolling very closely, confronting each other in the sea.

“The two ships are now patrolling in the sea at a distance that one can see another, but there is still no problem between the ships because they are patrolling on their own sides of the sea”, said the fisherman.

The sources on the border said the Burmese naval ship (552) started patrols last Monday in the sea off the coast of Kyaukpandu in southern Maungdaw Township in Arakan State close to Bangladesh, seizing Burmese smuggling boats sailing to Bangladesh and turning away the Bangladeshi fishing boats intruding into Burmese waters for fishing.

Bangladesh has also sent its naval ship into waters four-miles southeast off Saint Martin or Coconut Island on a security patrol, checking its territorial waters and the two ships have come to a confrontation from a distance that one can espy another in the sea.

Burma and Bangladesh have been undergoing a maritime boundary dispute in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) since 2009, just after their first naval confrontation near the disputed area.

The two neighbors have now come closer to their final settlement over the dispute as the ITLOS heard their case in this September and planned to deliver its ruling on the case in March 2011.

Residents living on the land borders of both countries however said that they are worrying that a problem between their countries could be escalating, as the naval ships of each country continue to patrol and confront each other in the Bay of Bengal, in a manner similar to their first encounter in 2008.

Narinjara News Online

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