More advanced patrol boats and airplanes will be added to Vietnam's maritime police fleet to improve the management of territorial waters, an official told the press Thursday.
The new ships, which are expected to come online early next year, should be able to remain offshore for longer stretches and brave more complicated weather conditions, according to Pham Duc Linh, chief of the Ministry of National Defense.
Linh made his comments on the sidelines of a meeting held in advance of the the 7th Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting (HACGAM) in Hanoi.
Linh said the new boats will also feature research and rescue facilities, including a health clinic and a landing pad for helicopters, while the new planes will ensure complete coverage of Vietnam's territorial waters and continental shelves.
"With such advanced ships, people can rest assured that maritime police will always show up whenever they are needed," Linh said.
Following the recent indcidents in the East Sea, Vietnam's maritime police have reorganized their operations to increase their presence at sea as much as possible, especially in waters bordering or "overlapping" with other countries', according to the official.
He said the police presence will help Vietnam's fishermen feel more secure.
Meanwhile, it will allow police to provide timely support to fishermen if anything occurs, and quickly issue warnings to local fishermen if they venture into other countries' waters, he added.
Linhs said members of his department have asked the government to create a hotline between Vietnamese and Chinese maritime police so the two parties can inform each other if any problems arise at sea.
"The two parties will then find the best solutions to aid fishermen, avoiding the recent situations where unilateral solutions lead to discomfort," Linh said.
Still, Linh reiterated that maritime police will cooperate with all forces related to sea activities like the navy, the coast guard, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Oil and Gas Group to maintain sea security.
If any foreign country illegally conducts oil exploration work and sets up drilling rigs in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone, "we will strongly intervene" through legal and diplomatic measures, he said.
According to Linh, Vietnam's territorial waters are three times larger than it's land mass. Despite the fact that maritime police have improved patrols at sea, they have yet to frequently cover its entire sea territory.
At the moment, their equipment has restricted them from engaging in long patrols or facing complicated weather conditions like strong winds, Linh said.
The HACGAM conference is expeted to take place this October with delegates from 18 countries and territories including Japan, China, India, and South Korea.
While the meeting will focus on current maritime security challenges to the region, Linh said that it won't touch on issues in the East Sea and territorial sovereignty.
"We will generally talk about keeping peace and guaranteeing sea security," he said.