MASINLOC, Zambales: Three fishermen from this town last Friday found another US “marine drone” off the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) near the disputed Panatag Shoal.
It was the second drone recovered off the coast of Zambales this year.
Galley Godornes, 30, Reynaldo Mendoza, 30, and Joseph Asuque, 28, all residents of Sitio Balogo in Barangay Inhobol, this town, said they found the yellow-colored oceanographic instrument, also called Slocum Glider, while fishing in the West Philippine Sea, dragged it home and later turned it over to the municipal police station.
The instrument is now in the custody of the provincial police office in Camp Conrado Yap in Iba, Zambales, says Senior Supt. Christopher Mateo, Philippine National Police (PNP) Zambales provincial director.
A similar oceanographic instrument was also found near the disputed Panatag Shoal (also called Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc) last February.A group of fishermen from Subic town found what was described initially as a US marine drone.
One of the fishermen, Romy Abastillas, 55, described that marine drone as weighing about 35-40 kilos and was marked “Naval Oceanographic Office USA.”
He said they spotted the object in the open sea near Scarborough and initially thought it was just a toy floating on the water.
It was later turned over to the Subic town police and was eventually claimed by the US Embassy.
The marine drone found in Subic and the one found on Friday by fishermen in Masinloc both bore a telephone number and e-mail address of the US Naval Oceanographic Office.
The name of the manufacturer, Teledyne Webb Research, can also be seen on the marine drone.
Teledyne Webb Research’s website www.webbsearch.com described the marine instrument as a Slocum Glider, a uniquely mobile network component capable of moving to specific locations and depths and occupying controlled spatial and temporal grids.
It is driven in a saw-tooth vertical profile by variable buoyancy and moves both horizontally and vertically.
The website further described it as having long-range and duration capabilities, making it ideally suited for sub-surface sampling at the regional scale.
The glider carries a wide variety of sensors and can be programmed to patrol for weeks at a time, surfacing to transmit data to shore while downloading new instructions at regular intervals, realizing substantial cost savings compared to traditional surface ships.