Chinese warship takes US drone in int'l waters: US
A Chinese naval vessel stole an American underwater drone while it was in international waters, the Pentagon said on Dec.16.
The U.S. Navy ocean glider was collecting oceanographic data when it was seized by a Dalang Class Chinese ship 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay in the Philippines, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters.
He said the Chinese ship acknowledged radio requests from the USNS Bowditch that was attempting to collect the drone when it was taken. But the Chinese ship did not heed demands that the craft be returned.
The drone, known as an "underwater glider", was not conducting a surveillance mission when it was seized, but was instead collecting information on water temperature, salinity and other scientific data, Davis said.
The U.S. has issued a formal diplomatic complaint over the matter, he said.
"It is ours. It was clearly marked as ours. We would like it back, and we would like this not to happen again," Davis said.
The incident is the latest confrontation between China and the U.S. in the disputed South China Sea region.
In May, the Pentagon sent a warship through the area to challenge China's maritime claims on artificial islands it built there.
Beijing scrambled jets and deployed its own vessels to challenge the U.S. ship, but no violent confrontation occurred.
China claims most of the sea, which contains some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and potentially lucrative deposits of fossil fuels, as integral parts of their maritime territory.
An international arbitration court ruling in The Hague said in July that there was no “legal basis” for China to claim historic rights in the waters.