Spratly Island

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Spratly Island
Disputed island
Other names: Storm Island,
南威島, đảo Trường Sa
Truong Sa lon.JPG
Children playing on Spratly Island's beach
Spratly Island is located in South China Sea
Spratly Island
Location South China Sea
Coordinates 8°38′41″N 111°55′12″E / 8.64472°N 111.92000°E / 8.64472; 111.92000 (Spratly Island)Coordinates: 8°38′41″N 111°55′12″E / 8.64472°N 111.92000°E / 8.64472; 111.92000 (Spratly Island)
Archipelago Spratly Islands
Administered by
Claimed by

Spratly Island (Vietnamese: Đảo Trường Sa; Chinese: 南威島; pinyin: Nánwēi dǎo), also known as Storm Island, with a natural area of 15 hectares (37 acres),[1] is the fourth largest of the naturally occurring[2] Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, and the largest of the Vietnamese-administered Spratly islands. It is also claimed by China and Taiwan.[3]

In 2016 the Vietnamese embarked on a land reclamation program at ten locations in the Spratly Islands.[4] At Spratly Island 37 acres have been reclaimed, which has allowed for the addition of a harbour[5] and the doubling of the length of the island's runway to a length of about 4,000 feet (1,200 m).[6]


Spratly island lies west of the SW of Dangerous Ground in the western half of the Spratly Islands. It is neighboured by Ladd Reef to the west, the London Reefs to the east, and others.[7]

History in the 20th century[edit]

In April 1930, France sent the dispatch boat (aviso), la Malicieuse, to the archipelago and raised the flag of France on a high mound on Spratly Island, also known as île de la Tempête.[8] According to an official announcement by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France occupied Spratly Island on April 13, 1930.[9]

On 21 December 1933, the Governor of Cochinchina, Jean-Félix Krautheimer, signed Decree No. 4702-CP merging Spratly Island, Amboyna Cay, Itu Aba Island, Northeast Cay, Southwest Cay, Loaita Island, Thitu Island and other dependent islands with Ba Ria province (present-day Vietnam's Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province).[10]

During the occupation of the island by the Imperial Japanese Navy at the time of the Pacific War, the island was known by the Japanese as Nishitori jima (西鳥島, lit. "Western bird island").

After World War II, the Republic of China Navy sent a fleet of vessels to the South China Sea to take over the occupation of islands from Japan. In 1946, the Republic of China government announced the sovereignty of this island, set a milestone, and named it "Nanwei Island". (Nanwei is the name of the Chairman of Guangdong Province in China in 1946 - Chinese: 南威島).[11]

During the early 1960s, the Republic of Vietnam Navy stopped off at the island several times. In 1963, three ships (HQ-404 Huong Giang, HQ-01 Chi Lang and HQ-09 Ki Hoa) visited and systematically rebuilt steles on a number of islands in the archipelago. On May 19, 1963, they built one on Spratly Island.[12] However, the war on the mainland led to the absence of Vietnamese troops on the island until 1974 when South Vietnam set up a permanent garrison there after the Crescent Group of the Paracel Islands was lost to China. On April 29, 1975, the Vietnam People's Army evicted South Vietnam's troops and occupied the island.


Under the South Vietnamese regime, Spratly Island was placed under the administration of Phước Tuy Province. In 2007, the Vietnamese government upgraded the island's status to a commune-level town which is in charge of administrating all nearby Vietnamese-controlled features such as Amboyna Cay and Barque Canada Reef.[13] On the island lies Trường Sa District's administrative center.


Spratly Island is shaped like an isosceles triangle. According to a document published by the Political Department of Vietnam's Navy Command, the island is 630 metres (2,070 ft) in length, up to 300 metres (980 ft) in width and has an area of 0.15 square kilometres (37 acres)[1] while several foreign documents often use a slightly smaller number of 0.13 square kilometres (32 acres).[14] It is 3.4 to 5 metres above sea level during low tide. The island has a variety of vegetation with a source of brackish water which can be utilized for bathing, washing and watering plants.[1] The fringing reefs that lie at all three corners are up to 200 metres (660 ft) wide and uncovered at low tide.[14]

With the typical meteorological characteristics of an archipelago, the Spratly Islands have a cool summer and a warm winter. The dry season, spanning from February to May, is characterized by a higher temperature from 4:30 AM to 19:00 PM. May to January is the time of the rainy season, when temperatures are lower during daytime, but thunderstorms more likely to occur.[1]


The island's plants are mostly Barringtonia asiatica, Ipomoea pes-caprae, Heliotropium foertherianum, and some kinds of bush and grass which grow poorly due to the harsh climate.[1] Spratly Island is home to some birds and has guano deposits. Islanders try to cultivate banana, papaya, chili pepper and a variety of vegetables and herbs. There are also hundreds of dogs and lots of poultry such as chickens, ducks and geese.[15]


Trường Sa Airport[edit]

Trường Sa Airport
Airport type Military
Operator Vietnam
Location Spratly Island
Trường Sa Airport is located in South China Sea
Trường Sa Airport
Trường Sa Airport
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3,900 1,200 Concrete

The island has a helicopter pad, and until 2016, a 600 metres (2,000 ft) landing strip that could accommodate small fixed-wing propeller aircraft (PZL M28 Skytruck, de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter). Originally built in 1976-77 with a 660m runway, the pre-2016 configurations were made in 2004.[16] Aircraft were parked on a small tarmac area next to the runway which runs the entire length of the island, with both ends ending on beachfront. Homes surround the two sides of the runway and a small two-story building with a control tower on the roof is located by the tarmac.

In 2016, photos and reports were published showing extensive land-reclamation and construction work at Spratly Island, with new harbours and extension of the runway to at least 1,200 metres (3,900 ft).[17]

Other facilities[edit]

Built in 1977, the meteorological station on Spratly Island has station index number 48920 as assigned by the World Meteorological Organization.

Energy is provided by solar panels and wind turbines. Additional facilities included a small jetty with two piers, a clinic, a cultural house, a radio tower and a Buddhist pagoda. A primary school has been in operation since April 2013.[18] There is a 5.5 m-high obelisk at the southern tip.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e (in Vietnamese)Những điều cần biết về hai quần đảo Hoàng Sa, Trường Sa và khu vực thềm lục địa phía nam [What you need to know about Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands and southern continental shelf]. Political Department, Naval Command (Vietnam). 2011. 
  2. ^ Commencing in 2013, the PRC embarked on a number of reclamation projects in the Spratly Islands. Kristine Kwok & Minnie Chan (2014-06-08). "China plans artificial island in disputed Spratlys chain in South China Sea". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2014-09-28. 
    By late 2016 this had involved seven sites with a total area of 5 sq mi. China reclamations, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
  3. ^ The island is not claimed by the Philippines; it lies outside of the Philippines Kalayaan Islands claim. "Presidential Decree No. 1596 (Philippines)" (PDF). Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Vietnam reclamations, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
  5. ^ Spratly Island, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
  6. ^ Vietnam responds with Spratly air upgrades], 1 December 2016, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.
  7. ^ Sta Ana, D.J. (25 May 2011). "Vietnam also has garrisons in PH zone of Spratlys". Interaksyon. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "White Paper on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands (1975) [part 1, split by uploading site]". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (South Vietnam). Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ (in Vietnamese) Tran, Dang Dai (1975). "Các văn kiện chính thức xác nhận chủ quyền Việt Nam trên hai quần đảo Hoàng Sa và Trường Sa từ thời Pháp thuộc tới nay". Tập san Sử Địa [Journal of History and Geography]. Saigon: Văn Hữu Printing-house. 29. 
  10. ^ "Truong Sa archipelago belongs to Ba Ria province (1933)". Website on Viet Nam's sovereign boundaries. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2015-05-28. 
  12. ^ "White Paper on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands (1975) [part 2, split by uploading site]". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Republic of Vietnam). Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  13. ^ (in Vietnamese) "Nghị định số 65/2007/NĐ-CP ngày 11 tháng 04 năm 2007 (...)". Ministry of Justice's Portal (Vietnam). Archived from the original on June 22, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Hancox, David; Prescott, Victor (1995). A Geographical Description of the Spratly Islands and an Account of Hydrographic Surveys amongst Those Islands. Maritime Briefings. 1. University of Durham, International Boundaries Research Unit. p. 14. ISBN 978-1897643181. 
  15. ^ (in Vietnamese)Đỗ Sơn (June 7, 2011). "Nhật ký Trường Sa - Kì 2 [Truong Sa Diary - Part 2]". Tiền phong online. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  16. ^ http://soha.vn/quan-su/may-bay-van-tai-c-295m-cua-vn-co-the-ha-canh-o-san-bay-truong-sa-20150511140210163.htm (Vietnamese)
  17. ^ "Vietnam Responds with Spratly Air Upgrades". Center for Strategic and International Studies. 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2017-07-05.  and https://amti.csis.org/spratly-island/
  18. ^ Trần Công Thi (2013-04-21). "Khánh thành Trường Tiểu học Trường Sa". Báo Khánh Hoà. Retrieved 2013-04-23.