Home » Budget Industry » Updated: Chinese Seize U.S. Navy Unmanned Vehicle


Updated: Chinese Seize U.S. Navy Unmanned Vehicle

A U.S. Navy buoyancy glider similar to one seized by Chinese forces. US Navy Photo

A U.S. Navy bouancy glider similar to one seized by Chinese forces. US Navy Photo

A U.S. Navy unmanned buoyancy glider was taken by Chinese forces in international waters earlier this week, two defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Friday.

The glider was operating with U.S. Military Sealift Command ship USNS Bowditch (T-AGS-62) about 50 miles off of Subic Bay in the Philippines when a People’s Liberation Army Navy ship took the glider both defense officals said.

“A Chinese naval ship that had been shadowing the Bowditch put a small boat into the water. That small boat came up alongside and the Chinese crew took one of the drones,” CNN reported on Friday

lbs_glider

“The Chinese navy ship ASR-510, a Dalang III-class ship, approached within 500 yards of the Bowditch, launched a small boat, and seized the UUV,” the Pentagon said in a statement reported the BBC

The gliders, far from the Navy’s most sophisticated unmanned vehicles, are used by the service as oceanagraphic survey tools. The gliders largely use unclassified means to collect data for the Navy’s charts and ocean models. The service deploys the systems for months at a time and they transmit data back to the Navy.

“This is an area of significant importance for future naval operations,” Eric Wertheim, author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets told USNI News on Friday. “While this ocean glider UUV may be low tech by comparison to other more advanced U.S. UUVs, the Chinese are known to be investing heavily in the development of their own unmanned underwater vehicles, and any additional information garnered from foreign systems could potentially prove useful to them.

The service has more than a hundred of the gliders that can transmit data back for more than a month at a time, Oceanographer of the Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet said in October during an AUVSI conference in Washington, D.C.

The seizure of the glider is arguably a violation of freedom of navigation norms.

The following is the complete Pentagon statement on the incident.

Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on Incident in South China Sea

Using appropriate government-to-government channels, the Department of Defense has called upon China to immediately return an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that China unlawfully seized on Dec. 15 in the South China Sea while it was being recovered by a U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship. The USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62) and the UUV — an unclassified “ocean glider” system used around the world to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, and sound speed – were 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. Bowditch made contact with the PRC Navy ship via bridge-to-bridge radio to request the return of the UUV. 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. We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law.”

  • NavySubNuke

    Shockingly not shocking. I can’t wait for Obama to send Kerry to grovel and beg for it back like he did after Iran kidnapped our sailors.
    This is what happens when you are weak — people take advantage of you. From Iran to Russia to China everyone knows that Obama is weak and indecisive and the fact that he is now a lame duck with a successor who promises to undo his limited accomplishments only accentuates that weakness.
    Hopefully those gliders aren’t packed full of anything to interesting because if the Chinese do give it back (and that is a pretty big if) it will be in pieces after they have broken it down and studied it so that they can reverse engineer it and make their own.

    • lib4

      So youre saying we start WWIII over a glider….cool
      When are you enlisting tough guy

      • NavySubNuke

        *** Pats lib4 on the head *** Your child like intelligence is both refreshing and entertaining, thank you for providing me with a laugh.
        I actually said no such thing – my point is that if Obama wasn’t so weak and didn’t do things like lay down a red line in Syria against chemical weapons use and then do nothing when it was violated things like this wouldn’t happen in the first place. That is why it is called deterrence by the way – it is much better than fighting.
        As to when am I enlisting – I can’t enlist at this point as I am already serving as an officer and have been for over 10 years.

        • Lorenzo Rodriguez

          Yep, just like we went and got back the USS Pueblo and her crew or the EP-3 and her crew that was stolen….
          That was the Obama Administration too……Oh, wait….

          • NavySubNuke

            The EP-3 in question actually landed on its own in Chinese territory so that isn’t an analogous example at all.
            As to the Pueblo — yes we should have gone in and gotten her out.
            But if you were actually capable of objective thought you would realize that neither of those examples absolves Obama from blame in this instance.

          • GreenTom

            Huh, “Pueblo is the only ship of the U.S. Navy still on the commissioned roster currently being held captive.” (wikipedia)

          • NavySubNuke

            And we haven’t forgotten her either – some day the Navy will get the chance to either blow her up and end the disgrace (she is currently on display in Pyongyang) or capture her back.
            Personally I wouldn’t mind blowing her up as long as it meant we could level the rest of Pyongyang at the same time.

        • voronwae

          Funny, as I followed the whole red line thing, I liked what we got out of it. Syria gave up their sarin, and we didn’t do so much as open a single eyelid.

          Granted, there were a lot of people yelling that we needed to bomb the crap out of them on principle, but that wouldn’t have accomplished as much. The people who are still yelling failed to get it.

          • NavySubNuke

            Yes – Putin did swoop in and make a deal to at least make it appear that they got rid our chemical weapons. Always nice to have Russia swoop in and save the day……

        • On Dre

          Obama doesn’t start wars over drones because that’s why we use drones.
          Duh.

          • NavySubNuke

            Actually the reason we use drones for things like this is because it monotonous, tedious, and doesn’t need to be done by a person.
            I’m not suggesting we should have started a war over this drone or any other drone – the proper response to this is to take out something of equivalent value. The real point here though is that Obama is so weak they are willing to do things like this in the first place. Sort of like Russia hacking the election and Obama telling Putin in person to stop it while also promising that we are going to do something to them — somewhere at some time and we aren’t going to tell people about it but we will do something. He almost sounded like Trump he was so vague.
            And I am sure the idea that we will respond – months after they acted – has the Russian’s just shaking with fear. Look at what happened in Yemen when they fired cruise missiles at our ships — days later we actually got around to doing something about it when they were probably already out of missiles anyway.
            Starting a war isn’t required – but a back bone is and that is where Obama has failed.

      • Padre3210

        A couple of shots across the bow should do the job.

    • FourWarVet

      Were we weak in April 2001 when the Chinese kept the EP-3E and their crew in Hainan and GW sent Powell to get them back? Were we weak when al Qaeda carried out their attacks in 01 despite our tough talking President and his VP? Finally, were we week in 1983 when Reagan sent the Rev. Jesse Jackson to Syria to get our downed pilots back?
      I get your point Navy Nuke I just think you need to take a broader perspective on your examples. Incidents happen even when cowboys are in office.

      • NavySubNuke

        The EP-3 in question actually landed in China on its own so that example isn’t analogous.
        Yes – we were perceived as weak in 01 when Al Qaeda attacked — the captured leadership openly admits they did not expect anything like the response they actually received. And if you talk to our allies even they didn’t expect the response they received.
        I have no idea about the 83 case you mentioned – I’ll have to look into that a bit more.

        • RedStatePatriot

          “EP-3 in question actually landed in China” the EP3 was badly damaged and had little choice but to land or ditch in the sea… personally I think the Pilot should have ditched.

          • NavySubNuke

            Yes, he definitely should have. Instead he choose to hand over years worth of valuable intel to the chinese rather than risk his own life. At least the Marine Osprey pilot in Japan last week knew better than that – better a plane in the drink than one crashing into a neighbor hood or being handed to the Chinese!

          • Bill

            I was told the same by an O-6 P3 pilot.

          • draeger24

            that was the SOP (ditch or bail-out), and that pilot didn’t do his job….

        • voronwae

          Yep, kind of strange after 9/11 when we chose to attack the wrong guys and ignore the perpetrators. I guess that showed everybody we were willing to go crazy.

          • Canada

            Right on, after US use fake reasons to attack Iraq and nobody held accountable, all international law are garbage and US has zero credential in the world stage now.

          • Gen. Buck Turgidson

            up yours mohammed

          • RedStatePatriot

            LOL, another Chinese troll posing as a Canadian from the name…. Try learning English and you might be more convincing.

          • old guy

            ALL of the sources can say whatever they want about “No weapons of Mass destruction”, but I saw, MYSELF, the pictures of dead, poison gassed Kurds and the convoy of over 35 semi trailer trucks leaving IRAQ for SYRIA. What was in them, RICE?
            Does anyone else remember them. They were only shown, briefly, then no more.

          • draeger24

            Canada….sounds like you speak in a Chinese “dialect”….hmmm….should we say hello to the Red Army monitoring this site? afta US use fake reasons…..LOL…yep, Red Army….how much do you guys get paid to monitor this site?

          • RedStatePatriot

            How exactly is us Invading Afghanistan to track down Bin Laden and the Taliban that was hiding him us “ignoring the perpetrators”?

          • NavySubNuke

            *** Pats Voronwae on the head *** sure we did. The Taliban and Bin Laden and his goons were all completely innocent right?
            You better put another wrap on tin foil on your hat before the government fries your brains.

        • Charles Haas

          Landed after being struck by a Chinese fighter plane that was acting aggressively. No doubt on orders from their leaders.

      • jetcal1

        FWV,
        BTW, Jackson self launched on that mission at the behest of Lt. Goodman’s family.
        And before you light off, I was pleased at the time inspite of the negative press about his trip. You see, Lt. Goodman and his pilot Lt. Lange launched off my boat.

      • Andre

        Remember all of North Korea’s unanswered provocations i.e. over 100 Americans murdered?

        • deafndumb

          Not least of which is the USS Pueblo, still moored in North Korea.

          • Andre

            The EC-121 was worse…

          • deafndumb

            Enlighten me please. When did NK shoot down a EC-121? That must have preceded the Pueblo incident which was instigated by the Russians to get the crypto machine so that they could read the codes that supposedly John Walker was so kind as to sell them.

          • Andre

            Pueblo was Johnson; EC-121 was Nixon, and the latter cost 30+ lives.

      • RedStatePatriot

        Reagan did not send Jesse Jackson anywhere, he went on his own.

        • old guy

          You beat me to it.

        • redgriffin

          Reagan never went to Syria and we got the pilots back.

          • RedStatePatriot

            LOL, who ever said Reagan went to Syria…. maybe reading comprehension is not your strong suit.

          • redgriffin

            Your right all Reagan did was gert us involved wit a war with Iran. And don’t deny it because I was there. Jackson went to Syria on his own dime and got the pilots out.

          • RedStatePatriot

            “all Reagan did was get us involved wit a war with Iran. And don’t deny it because I was there”… LOL, so the US had a war with Iran and you served in that war…. ahhh, gee yeah, I guess I can’t deny that… LOL. I guess I missed that chapter in the history books… US fought a war with Iran… just out of curiosity who won that one? Did you get any medals for your heroism in the War with Iran that you served in?

            Jesse Jackson is a pawn of other nations propaganda. The reason hostile nations so happily give prisoners over to that race baiting poverty pimp is because it undermines the US government. Only simpletons don’t understand that.

          • redgriffin

            Calling religious men just a”pawn to propaganda” because they go places that Governments are afraid to go is just a cop out to cover the truth in some places a religious person can do more then an Ambassador and all the negotiator in the world and sometimes a country’s leader backs him/herself into a corner that they are unable to get out of due to inexperience or lack of will.

          • RedStatePatriot

            To call Jackson a religious person is a joke… he is a race husler and little else… like I said only simpletons done understand that.

          • redgriffin

            Well when someone has the title Rev, Rt. Rev, D.D. , Pope or even Lama in their title they are considered Religious leaders whether one likes it or not it’s just fact of life.

          • redgriffin

            Okay you say he is a joke and that is your opinion and I respect that can you respect mine?

        • Lorenzo Rodriguez

          As far as you know – at least that’s the way they sold it.

      • Gen. Buck Turgidson

        continue the weakness by all means,,

      • draeger24

        FWV…let’s make sure you take things in proper context. When W inherited the military from Clinton, it was a complete mess. The Chinese (in ref to EP-3) did not have nearly the capability then they do now, and, they were not the threat then as they are now. Should we have reacted more strongly? Yes… As for 9/11, news flash: We had two opportunities in 1997 and 1998 to kill/capture Bin Laden, and Clinton did nothing. Reagan did not send JJ…he went on his own…that said, as with other times that civvies have gone, there is usually gov “guidance”.

        • FourWarVet

          I have been on AD since 85, so I don’t need a lesson on the state of the mil in 2001. During the Clinton Presidency, I was in a unit that was part of the major combat operations in the Balkans (1999), and a year prior we were part of the effort that we gave Saddam a major smack upside the head in Operation DESERT FOX. Somehow the Clinton administration was able to pull these ops off, and others not mentioned here, without any loss of US lives and major source of pain to our adversaries?
          The US mil while downsized from the Cold War (a process that began under HW Bush the creator of the term “Peace Dividend”) was still very capable in 2001. China did not retain the EP-3E in 2001 because they perceived the US as weak. That is a counter-factual argument based on an illusory premise.
          I agree that the PRC is stronger today, but as long as China has 1B people, and lots of nuclear weapons there is only so much we can do to counter them–no matter who is President. FYI: We did not have armed drones in 97 and 98. Our means to kill Bin Laden were limited to weapons and a planning process that took hours (see Operation INFINITE REACH 1998–a near miss). The military and CIA were more to blame for not being more aggressive about killing bin Laden than the President who had authorized them to kill bin Laden. It always easy to say we should have smothered baby Hitler in his crib, but real history doesn’t work that way. Fog, friction, and the play of chance… such is war.
          So my non-political point is this–incidents happen to all Presidents, and they will happen to the next one. A close examination of Reagan, the go to poster-Strong President, faced many challenges (Lebanon, AFG, Iran, N. Korea, Cuba) and he dealt with them rationally and in very measured terms. BLUF: Being the biggest meanest dog on the block doesn’t mean that you will be immune to challenges from smaller and bigger dogs on the world block.

          • old guy

            I had not read this piece of yours before. I have new respect. Items that I know of jibe with what you say.

          • draeger24

            The US military may have had capability at the Tier 1 level in the 90’s, but the rest of us were doing things such as having to buy our own 9mm and range time. HW did, in fact, believe the baloney of the Peace dividend.The Serbs did not recoil until they took an M-1 ABRAMs and ran over the first roadblock as ordered by CINCEUR. As to our supporting the wrong people in that conflict, that is a whole ‘nudda debate. The Chinese have been very bold in what they have been doing, and it has continued with little reaction to them, starting with the EP-3. The military and CIA were aggressive in getting Bin Laden – Clinton’s NSC was not, not only with this, but firing cruise missiles and forgetting about it. Gore would have done the same thing after 9/11. While I was a Reagan fan, going into Lebanon was a huge mistake, but he learned from that. The Chinese will keep being aggressive until we actually make moves to protect the sea lanes in the Spratley areas.Obama has given our country the perception of weakness in action, and that is the point. The Chinese will break apart that drone, study it, then maybe give it back. Maybe. The news cycle already has changed with the Russian ambassador getting whacked, so we will probably do nothing. GOD Bless.

    • GreenTom

      The difference is the Iran incident happened within their territorial waters. This one is in international waters, China’s opinion notwithstanding.

      Obama isn’t weak, he stays focused on core national interests, and doesn’t respond to every provocation. Which is a good thing. When you’re responding, the other guy is in control.

      That said, we need to respond to this. Piracy of a USNS ship is unacceptable.

      • Harold Pollitt

        NOBAMA has only focused on promoting his book deals. He has done NOTHING for the USA, except pass gay marriage and Socialized medicine!

        • voronwae

          There are the cool-headed chess players of foreign policy, and then there are loud peckerwoods. Don’t be a peckerwood.

          • old guy

            As a “cool-headed, AGGRESSIVE, chessplayer” I think your statement inappropriate. Namecalling is a sign of moral weakness.

          • On Dre

            If you knew how all the ‘peckerwoods’ are singing right now you would know how accurate voronwae’s claim really is.

      • deafndumb

        First, this wasn’t piracy. Second, it was not a USNS ship, it was a small drone. Third, when you don’t respond in a manner that the opposing party understands or does not deter him or it then the response is meaningless or worse. The Chinese knew that we could not stop them and have no fear of reprisal from Obama.
        However, I suspect that once in office, Trump will shake up our foreign policy. A consequence of that is probably that China will learn that Trump will allow retaliation by our military and that we align ourselves with Russia to the detriment of China.

  • sragsd0416

    The current “push” is for unmanned vehicles of some sort. Big Navy has been backing this fairly robustly. The fact is that unmanned vehicles and in particular those used on and below the waves will eventually get captured and the technology compromised. It is not an “if” it is a “when”. Further their operations in coastal areas and in particular those of high fishing densities is virtually a non starter.

    • tteng

      It has to be done this way. PLAN is updating/sowing/changing its undersea ASW deployment (sensors, mines, who knows what) in a progressive base (just as you and I observe its surface/space/aerial deployment upgrades.)

      The US can’t afford losing real humans doing this type of detection work on a regular basis (too many grieving widows will give away the whole story).

  • ranfran

    Shoot, don’t shoot. This president or that president’s a coward.
    Everyone take a deep breath. Get you a copy of Bacevich’s “Limits of Power,” find a quite place and read.
    Regards,
    from a simple CTRC(SW) Ret

    • El_Sid

      It’s just a modern day version of the USS Pueblo incident. I don’t recall the US starting World War III then either. It does make an argument for assets in the SCS to have the speed to outrun Chinese auxiliaries and coastguard vessels….

      • ranfran

        Check out Jack Cheevers’ “Act of War – Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo.” Written in 2013.

  • tteng

    So much one can read from this,

    1. Chinese ship ASR-510, from what I read in wiki, is some kind of sub rescue ship. Looks like it’s pack full of sensors itself. If it is shadowing the US ASW sensor ship; it is basically sniffing (or try to) up close of what the US ship is ‘transmitting/receiving’.

    2. From what the picture shown about the glider, it is not very big. If it is bobbing on the surface, it can’t be that obvious; and since the US ships must of planned its retrieval given the shadowing Chinese ship (which can’t be that close) the Chinese must of known the glider presence somehow beforehand. (or maybe the glider malfunctioned, surfaced by default, was detected, and off went the foot race to retrieve it.)

    3. Next time, put a self-detonation device on it (unless it malfunctioned, too).

    • deafndumb

      We had just recovered the first one, the Chinese then captured the second one.

  • jim

    They know Our Appeaser In Chief will just shrug his shoulders and look the other way. Obama should be use to having spittle roll down his face since the Russians, Iranians, Chinese, and North Koreans have been using his face as a spittoon for the last 8 years. 35 more days.

  • Toshi G.

    The US is scouting out the area for war with China in the SCS. The US has no business over there. Good for the Chinese in taking care of their business in their territory. The Monroe Doctrine isn’t for the US only.

    • Tristan

      Continue with your bullying PRC, soon you will not be facing only the Americans or Japanese in battle! We’re coming for you too very soon!

  • Jack Meihoff

    Well I guess that the Navy must have wanted the Chinese to have that drone otherwise they would have stopped them from taking it

    • deafndumb

      Stopped them how?

  • tteng

    The one-page above ‘LBS Glider System’ is not describing an ‘unclassified research drone’. Look at its description,

    1. ‘4-6mo on station’ says long duration seakeeping technology for robot subs
    2. ‘iridium comm’ and ‘remote piloting’ says undersea comm technology
    3. ‘ for ASW, MSW, MIW, and SpecOp’, sounds very military to be unclassified
    4. ‘Autonomous data-collection and mapping’ says sensors tech and electronics.

    On second thought, maybe it will blow up- when they try to open it san procedure (we’ll never know.)

    • El_Sid

      1. ‘4-6mo on station’ says long duration seakeeping technology for robot subs

      It also implies low power drain, they’re not doing anything too complicated.

      2. ‘iridium comm’ and ‘remote piloting’ says undersea comm technology

      Iridium is commercial sat comms, they’re not transmitting anything that’s very classified.

      3. ‘ for ASW, MSW, MIW, and SpecOp’, sounds very military to be unclassified
      4. ‘Autonomous data-collection and mapping’ says sensors tech and electronics.

      Deployment from T-AGS60 Pathfinders implies they’re operated by the Naval Oceanographic Office. This sounds like they’re recording the basic environmental information that gets fed into various computer models that *are* “very military”.

      So for instance, sonar models will be much improved by knowing where the thermocline is and what the salinity is. MAD detection will be much improved by having accurate magnetic baseline data. Covert insertion will be easier if you have good bathymetry and hydrographic data.

      All that is very important stuff, but it just requires basic instruments like a thermometer to be hooked to a propulsion system and basic commercial-grade comms.

      • tteng

        I looked up ‘littoral battlespace sensor fusion and integration’ (LBS). Then I look at one of the public disclosed pdf (7.17.12 Auvsi.pdf); on pg 19 is a labeled glider with instruments (mfg and model). And if you look up what’s disclosed (e.g. NBOS CT sensor, BAM, EM3002 sonar transducer)..pretty soon you get a peripheral idea what these things are doing, which company sells them, how recent these products are, and the physics behind them.

        These are not basic instruments (if the reader has some physics/engineering background).

        • CharleyA

          Nope, the sensors are pretty basic individually.

          • tteng

            Look, my point is- the drone is doing battlefield preparation. Anybody on this site knows it. The statement of ‘unclassified research drone’, in the piece released to general public, was obviously made to target a different crowd (i.e. folks not as awared of the mil.matters) for a different purpose (i.e. China robs and steals, as moral/behavior contrast); thus the innocuous and neutral phrasing.

          • CharleyA

            The USN has a long history of collecting oceanographic data for research and planning purposes. The only thing “new” here is the seizure of the clearly marked, bright yellow sensor vehicle by a belligerent vessel. I suppose the Chinese wanted to examine it just to see what kind of data it was actually collecting, and felt comfortable that they would not be challenged since USNS oceanographic survey ships are crewed by civilians and have no combat capability.

          • tteng

            I don’t know why you are hung up on the terminology; it does not matter to Chinese if you called it ‘scientific research’ (just as the US disbelieving Chinese claims of its man-made islands as ‘marine study sancturary’). Both sides know they were for military purposes.

            Also, China has fished up US properties before. For example, its yu-6 torpedo was based on a Mark 48 netted by its fisherman. The only thing new this time- it was done in front of the US personnel, a dare gesture instead of belligerence, since no threats were exchanged.

          • KazuakiShimazaki

            Even if it is, and let’s be honest, we all know it is, since it is in international waters, it is still nothing but theft of a perfectly legal expedition on China’s part.

          • tteng

            If one’s national security is perceived under threat, nothing is sacred, including international laws.

          • CharleyA

            Oceanographic / meteorological data collection is a routine USNS evolution across the world’s oceans to support USN operations. There is nothing special about operating in the Philippine /South China / Sulu Sea, excepting that the belligerent party in this incident is building military bases on sea floor features in the region. Perhaps the Chinese are nervous that data collected might be used against their efforts in some way. In a macro sense, it’s certainly possible since the type of data collected can influence operational decision making and tactics. In any event, it’s unclear if the Chinese are trying to provoke a response from a lame duck president, or trying to influence future deployments. In any event, they now say they will return the illegally seized property. Whether the return of the sensor was part of the original plan, or a response to diplomatic pressure / unspecified repercussions is anyone’s guess at this point, although it’s unlikely that USN operations will be affected.

          • tteng

            The USN literature stated the glider is for anti-sub and mine-warfare applications. And it so happened SCS is China’s SLBM nuke deterrence operating area (based on its minimal nuke deterrence policy.) Let me ask you a few question,

            1. If the USN tries to invalidate that strategy, which direction do you think China’s nuke policy will evolve- go small? or go big?

            2. Do you think China has the economic, industrial, military tech wherewithal to go big on multi-front nuke deterrence disposition: aerial, ICBM, SLBM, space?

            3. China now has about 250 warheads (based on its current minimal nuke strategy), do you think the world is safer now than if when China has 2500, if it decides to go big?

            While I’m sure China is sending a message to Trump that election is over, it is time to bring the fight behind the scene, and not show up each other (whether it is ‘1-China’ or ‘plain sight pickpocket’); there is a persistent pattern of China’s risky behavior when it perceived its sub under threat (from EP3, to Impeccable, to P-8, to this drone). Be aware the unintended consequence if China deemed its current minimal nuke strategy not working.

          • CharleyA

            What do your questions have to do with China’s illegal seizure of a oceanographic sensor platform? Why not ask me about what the Chinese ship should have done when it “found” the vehicle. Never mind, I’ll spare you the effort: call the telephone number that is printed on the vehicle to arrange its return. Easier than that, return the hail of the ship that was obviously tending to it. Problem solved.

          • tteng

            Oh, it is my habit of peeling onions on ‘why done it’ on geopolitical jousting between sophisticate powers. I tend not to view it as ‘right or wrong’, but ‘what’s the point/what’s the consequence’- as long as no lives were lost or bodily harm occurred.

            On this incident, if you insist on framing it as ‘legal high ground’, then Yes: China has violated the US sense of ‘legality and property right’. And, you can even refuse to acknowledge the point China try to impart on Trump, or the strategic concern I raised which is not Trump-related, and there are probably other layers that I missed..because this is such an oddball and dissonant occurrence worthy of step back rumination. At least that’s how I look at it.

  • PappyStu

    Or they could just bill them the exact amount of treasury bonds they supposedly hold….

  • El_Sid

    Heh – just noticed an instance of US insularity. This thing is being used thousands of miles from the US – but the phone numbers on the side are not in international format, they assume that whoever finds it will be on the US phone system.

    It’s one of those little things that says so much about the US mindset when it comes to foreign relations.

    • deafndumb

      Surely you are not implying that the Chinese can not dial to the US. The reason for the phone # is so they can order spare parts, ha. I wonder if this drone is subject to ITAR.

  • KazuakiShimazaki

    This might make for a nice pretext to launch an attack on those “defensive installations” the Chinese are laying to “not-militarize” the South China Sea. Rolling them back is compatible with US interests and if China supplies the pretext.

  • old guy

    Unless there was spook gear aboard, laugh it off. If it had such gear, it should have been set to blow up in their, thievin’ faces.
    If the PRC guys had a sense of humor they would have reprogrammed it to go near a US Naval base and shoot off fireworks at Christmas

  • voronwae

    We evidently don’t have a policy for countries that just show up and steal our stuff.

    For now maybe we just shrug and send them a bill for reimbursement. Nobody else would want to pay what we pay for any piece of military hardware.

    • deafndumb

      Any nation would pay ten times what we pay for crypto machines, just to name one example.

  • Hhmm

    China has very low regard for what US says. The US keeps telling them to stop building islands for years now to no avail. I doubt they will return the drone. As a result of American inaction, the US is perceived as toothless and all bluster.

  • Western

    Hopefully the next Secretary of Defense will focus efforts on crew training, clear rules of engagement and peace through power, rather than generic bathrooms, diversity training, uniform changes and laser weapons. Why haven’t we seized ASR-510 by now? If you are not prepared to defend your right to be at sea in every way, then stay in port and play video games.

  • The Tinfoil Tricorn

    So basically we were creating detailed maps of he area for our subs and now the Chinese have our technology, even more it was surrendered without a fight as is classic with the Obama administration… how many oops is that now with significant technology accidently falling into the hands of nations actively seeking to subvert US interests. Children in China sing songs about dominating the world, let that sink in China wants to rule the world!

  • Allen Handy

    The Chinese have made patent law irrelevant by stealing whatever they want, whenever they want in business. With impunity.The Russians and WikiLeaks have proven the internet can not be made secure. Elon Musk has decided to make everything open source because of both. Now, the Chinese Navy is looting the open ocean. Who benefits from this kind of anarchy?

  • Marjus Plaku

    those are some pretty telling and dangerous ROE. begging for the chinese to stop via bridge to bridge radio and pleading for the return of our property while being ignored is pathetic and borderline criminal/homicidal. we have learned nothing from the USS Preble incident, the iranian seizure of our boats and crew and the missile attacks off yemen. restraint and indecision can be interpreted for weakness and stupidity and only invite further adventurism, acts of aggression and hostility.

    the size or our navy is also telling that right in the heart of the 7th fleet AOR we have one of our non combatant ships harassed and interfered with by a foreign navy, and the nearest source of redress is not a USN warship on escort or station, but the white house podium in DC. yikes! talk about being unprepared and undersized. and the chinese have not even fully finished building/arming their islands and building developing their navy/air force yet, and already able to bully, our presence and outgun our vessels.

  • Gen. Buck Turgidson

    Another thundering failure by the ss Obama,,,,of course it was unescorted,,,,hopefully help is on the way,,

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    .. who dares he wins. INICIATIVE VS. twilight of idiocy? Politically motivated of course.

  • old guy

    NAH, Prez-elect Trump just tweeted,”Let them keep it.” Now we can sweep the South China Sea’s international, waters, for all the sonar detectors they are deploying.

  • Hugh

    This just adds to global mistrust and disrespect of China. Also remember, during the Cold War the USSR used to grab the West’s sonobuoys from time to time.

  • John Locke

    Dunno why they would steal it when their spies have infiltrated the defense industry and DoD. Just look around and you’ll find FBC employed at every federal level in every service and at every federal lab. I don’t include them in any briefings I give.

    • draeger24

      they are testing our resolve…they are testing our reactions, and trying to assert themselves in and ever-increasing sphere of influence to which we have done nothing.

  • Charles Haas

    Sounds to me like it is time to start doing the same to China. Nothing like a giving them a dose of their own medicine. Would be a shame if some underwater steel netting started fouling their ships propellers.

  • James Madison

    “I guarantee you that the Chinese won’t reverse engineer that thing.”

    ~Said no one ever