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Marooned Filipino Ship Becomes Center of South China Sea Flashpoint

File image of the the grounded Philippine navy ship BRP Sierra Madre where marines are stationed to assert Manila's territorial claims at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. Ted ALJIBE / AFP

The deterioration of an aging Filipino ship grounded in the South China Sea is becoming the center of an already concerning global flashpoint between China, the Philippines, and the U.S.

No one knows just how fast the BRP Sierra Madre is falling apart. The Philippines purposefully marooned the World War II-era navy vessel at Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 as a territorial marker amid perceived Chinese encroachment in the area.

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