WASHINGTON: A Chinese warship has seized an underwater drone deployed by a US oceanographic vessel in the South China Sea, triggering a formal diplomatic protest and a demand for its return, US officials told Reuters on Friday.
The incident took place on December 15 about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines just as the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey ship, was about to retrieve the unmanned, underwater vehicle (UUV), officials said.
“The UUV was lawfully conducting a military survey in the waters of the South China Sea,” one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It’s a sovereign immune vessel, clearly marked in English not to be removed from the water – that it was US property,” the official said.
The Pentagon later confirmed the incident at a news briefing.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2016.