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Sierra Madre

30th April, 2024 International Relations

Sierra Madre

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  • Of late, the Philippines and China in particular have clashed in the South China sea region, raising concerns about an escalation.

Sierra Madre

  • Sierra Madre is a World War II-era ship.
  • The 100 ft-long Sierra Madre was constructed in the US for World War II (1939-45) and commissioned in 1944 as a landing ship.
  • Subsequently, it was sent to Vietnam during the US participation in the Vietnam War (1954-75).
  • In 1976, it was transferred to the Philippines, an ally of the US.

Sierra Madre’s association with Spartley Islands

  • In 1999, it was left on the Second Thomas Shoal, which is a part of the mostly uninhabited Spratly Islands.
  • A few years ago, China had laid claims on the nearby Mischief Reef. The move was an attempt at halting further Chinese assertions.
  • China has since demanded the ship’s removal – something the Philippines has rejected. Today, the ship is largely dilapidated and rusting. However, for the Philippines, its removal would risk weakening its claims over the islands and the Chinese presence being established.
  • The disputes “gradually escalated under former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and culminated in 2012 when China took effective control of the disputed Scarborough Shoal after a tense standoff.”

What is the battle over the Spratly islands?

  • Overlapping EEZ: All countries bordering the sea have certain rights to access marine resources. An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is an area of the ocean extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) beyond a nation’s territorial sea (12 nautical miles or 12 miles from the coast). Within this area, a coastal nation has jurisdiction over both living and nonliving resources, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Due of the overlapping of EEZ, there is also overlapping claims of ownership.
  • Sovereign rights: For decades, countries in the region have extended overlapping claims on the South China Sea, claiming ownership over islands located there – such as the Spratly islands and the Paracel Islands with issues over sovereignty.
  • Resource richness: The region is rich in oil and gas reserves and is also rich for fishing harvest encouraging countries to lay their claims.
  • Lack of delimitation: In 2016, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled in favour of the Philippines by noting China’s activities in the dispute. The decision did not award sovereignty to any party. It also pointed to China’s construction of artificial islands with helipads and buildings as “incompatible with the obligations on a State during dispute resolution proceedings, insofar as China has inflicted irreparable harm to the marine environment, built a large artificial island in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and destroyed evidence of the natural condition of features in the South China Sea that formed part of the Parties’ dispute.”

Second Thomas Shoal


South China Sea:



Indian Express


Q)Which of the following terms best describes the term Sierra Madre, recetnly seen in news?

  1. It is a disputed territory between China and Phillipine is South China Sea.
  2.  It is a disputed territory between China andVietnam is South China Sea.
  3. It is a World War II-era ship constructed in the US for World War II as a landing ship.
  4. It was Vietnam War transport vessel designed by Boeing in US.

Ans: C