Chinese warship seizes US underwater drone in South China Sea

The Pentagon demands Beijing returns the unmanned gilder, which was operated by a survey ship, and has issued a formal complaint.
A Chinese warship has seized a US Navy underwater drone collecting scientific data in the disputed South China Sea, according to the Pentagon.
The US is demanding Beijing returns the 10ft-long unmanned gilder and has issued a formal complaint.
The drone was one of two being recovered by a US survey ship about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay near the Philippines when the Chinese warship approached.
The Dalang Class ship sent out a small boat which then took one of the drones on Thursday, said a Pentagon spokesman.
Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters: “It is ours. It’s clearly marked as ours. We would like it back, and we would like this not to happen again.”
He said the Chinese ship acknowledged radio messages from the US ship, but did not respond to demands that the glider be returned.
The Navy oceanographic survey ship, USNS Bowditch, which is armed, had deployed the drones.
It was stopped in the water when the Chinese ship approached and the vessels were about 500m apart.
Captain Davis said no shots were fired, and as the Chinese ship left with the drone its only radio response to the US vessel was: “We are returning to normal operations.”
The drone can be programmed to collect data on temperature, salinity, and other scientific facts used for sonar operations.
The seizure will add to concerns about China’s growing military presence in the South China Sea, including its militarisation of maritime outposts.
The Global Times, a newspaper published by China’s Communist Party, has reported that China and the US are in contact over the seizure and that a “smooth resolution” is expected.

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