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article imageU.S. oceanographic vessel has its underwater drone taken by China

By Karen Graham     Dec 16, 2016 in World
A Chinese warship has seized an American oceanographic vessel's unmanned, underwater vehicle (UUV) in international waters in the South China Sea, triggering a formal diplomatic protest, says the U.S. Department of Defense.
The December 15 incident, the first one in recent memory, took place northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve two UUV's, an unnamed official, speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters.
The underwater drones were being used for measuring water salinity and temperatures, according to Raw Story. The USNS Bowditch was reportedly sailing about 100 miles off the port at Subic Bay when the incident occurred. The Bowditch had stopped to retrieve two UUVs.
At that point, a Chinese military ship that had been shadowing the U.S. Vessel put a small boat in the water. The small boat came alongside the U.S. vessel and the Chinese crew took one of the drones and skedaddled back to their ship, reports CNN News.
The UUV was “stolen by a Chinese warship literally right in front of the eyes of the American crew,” a Defense Department official told CNN. The Chinese vessel did not respond to a radio message from the American ship that said the UUV was American property.
But as the Chinese vessel turned away to leave, they did come up on the radio to say they were returning to their own operations. U.S. oceanographic research vessels are often followed under the assumption they are spying. And while many news agencies are reporting on the incident, the Pentagon has remained silent.
CNN is "wondering out loud" if this latest incident isn't China's way of retaliating for the congratulatory call from Taiwan's President to President-elect Trump on his victory in the election, a violation of the US's agreement with China's One China policy.
More about underwater drone, Chinese warship, South china sea, international waters, Defence department
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