Chinese warship seizes US Navy vessel as tensions escalate

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Chinese warship seizes US Navy vessel as tensions escalate
(Picture: Getty Images)

China’s Navy has seized an unmanned drone belonging to the US Navy.

US research vessel USNS Bowditch was collecting scientific data on the waters in international waters of the South China Sea when one of its drones was taken.

Boy, 12, tried to detonate nail bomb in busy German Christmas marketThe theft – which is the first of its kind in recent memory – has led to a formal demarche from the US and a demand for its return.

According to US defence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, the US oceanographic vessel had its underwater drone stolen right in front of the eyes of the American crew.

The source told CNN that Bowditch was sailing around 100 miles from the port at Subic Bay when the shocking incident occurred.

Bowditch had stopped in the water to pick up two underwater drones – at which point a Chinese naval ship put a small boat into the water, which then sailed up alongside the vessel. The Chinese crew inside the boat then took one of the drones.

USNS Bowditch at sea
USNS Bowditch at sea

When the US crew contacted Chinese officials over the radio to say the drone was American property, they got no answer.

As they turned away, the Chinese then told them they were going to return to their own operations.

‘The UUV was lawfully conducting a military survey in the waters of the South China Sea,’ the official said.

Guy casually checks in at airport wearing nothing but his Speedos‘It’s a sovereign immune vessel, clearly marked in English not to be removed from the water – that it was US property.’

This incident will add to concerns about China’s growing military presence and aggressive posture in the disputed South China Sea, including its militarisation of maritime outposts.

Although the drone was only measuring ocean conditions, the official added, the US’s research vessels are often followed in the water under the assumption that they are spying.

The Pentagon has yet to release an official statement on the drone theft.

USS Chicago, another US Navy submarine, docked at Subic Bay port in 2015 (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
USS Chicago, another US Navy submarine, docked at Subic Bay port in 2015 (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Tensions between the US and China have been rocky since the president-elect took a call from Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan.

FILE - This combination of two photos shows U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, left, speaking during a "USA Thank You" tour event in Cincinatti Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, delivering a speech during National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. Trump spoke Friday, Dec. 2, with Tsai, a move that will be sure to anger China. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Chinag Ying-ying, File)Donald Trump annoys China by chatting to Taiwan’s presidentTaiwan and the US have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, the year Washington officially backed the so-called ‘one China’ policy.

This means it officially shifted diplomatic recognition of China from the government in Taiwan to the communist government on the mainland.

At the time China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, called the controversial phone call ‘a small trick by Taiwan’.

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