A U.S. underwater research drone estimated at $150,000, was stolen Thursday by a Chinese Naval Ship in the South China Sea.
According to Fox News, the Chinese have been secretly following these American Navy Ships for months which the USNS Bowditch’s website stated is meant to “support worldwide oceanography programs, including performing acoustical, biological, physical and geophysical surveys.”
The drones reportedly do not contain classified material and are strictly used to map the sea floor and gather other oceanographic data.
Since the deployment of the American USNS Bowditch drone, the Slocum Glider, the Chinese ships have been following them for days before finally seizing the drone.
The Chinese takeover of the U.S. drone took place at about noon on Thursday roughly 40 miles west of the Philippines and about 150 miles from Scarborough Shoal, an area in contention by the Chinese and Philippines.
The Military Sealift Command, which operates the research ships owned by the U.S. Navy, hired the civilian mariners and scientists on board.
On Wednesday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies stated that China had begun to arrange for anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapon systems to protect from missile strikes on its seven vital man-made islands.
After the incident the American research ship’s crew tried to contact the Chinese ship over a bridge-to-bridge radio, only to be ignored.
The U.S. ambassador in Beijing delivered a demarche, a formal protest, from the state department to the Chinese government on Friday.
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