DoD Demands China Return Navy UUV Seized in South China Sea
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Defense Department has called upon China to immediately return an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that China seized on Dec. 15 in the South China Sea, Peter Cook, spokesman for the department, said in a Dec. 16 statement.
“We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law,” Cook said, noting that the department made the demand “using appropriate government-to-government channels.”
The UUV — an unclassified “ocean glider” system used around the world to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, and sound speed — was being recovered by the U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship USNS Bowditch, Cook said.
Bowditch was “conducting routine operations in accordance with international law about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, Philippines, when a Chinese Navy PRC DALANG III-class ship (ASR-510) launched a small boat and retrieved the UUV,” he said
“Bowditch made contact with the PRC Navy ship via bridge-to-bridge radio to request the return of the UUV,” he said. “The radio contact was acknowledged by the PRC Navy ship, but the request was ignored. The UUV is a sovereign immune vessel of the United States.”