According to reports, China’s navy has seized an unmanned, underwater U.S. Navy vehicle collecting scientific data in the international waters of the South China Sea. A U.S. Defense official told Reuters on Friday that a Chinese Navy warship has captured the drone, which triggered a formal démarche from the U.S. and a demand for its return. The official also disclosed that the unprecedented incident happened on December 15th northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines.
The incident happened just before the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve the drone, the official added. The US received no response from the Chinese on the radio when the US said the drone was property of America.
“The UUV was lawfully conducting a military survey in the waters of the South China Sea,” the official said.
“It’s a sovereign immune vessel, clearly marked in English not to be removed from the water – that it was U.S. property.”
CNN said that a U.S. Defense official told them that the drone was captured right in front of their eyes. The USNS Bowditch was sailing about 100 miles off the port and stopped to pick up two drones. A Chinese Naval ship that had been shadowing the USNS Bowditch put a small boat into the water and took one of the drones.
On Thursday, the U.S. Pacific fleet said it was ready to confront the Asian nation if they continued to overreach maritime claims in the sea.