China Seizes U.S. Submarine Drone In Disputed Territory Of The South China Sea (UPDATED)

us-china conflictBy Nicholas West

An ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea over a stretch that comprises more than 750 reefs, banks, and shoals known more generally as the Spratly Islands continues to heat up.

Late 2015 saw a severe escalation when the United States announced that it would send warships directly into a zone which China lays claim to.  The U.S. has continued to counter China’s claim to sovereign territory, which (officially) dates from 2009, with a series of military maneuvers that many believe could spiral dangerously out of control.

Perhaps emboldened by a lack of overt resistance, the U.S. subsequently upped the ante of its strike force by sending three nuclear-equipped B-2 Stealth Bombers this past March. As reported by The Free Thought Project, even that wasn’t enough, as the overall mission was backed by the largest exercise of its kind, just outside the contested territory.

This maneuver was followed in April by the announcement that the U.S. was prepared to launch submarine drones into the contested space to augment its manned ship presence. Shawn Brimley, an official for the Center for a New American Security, stated the reasoning:

The idea is that if we were ever to get into a bust-up in the South China Sea, the Chinese would not know for sure what sort of capabilities the US might have … This might have some deterrent impact on the potential for provocative behaviour.


Well, China might now understand what capabilities the U.S. has, or at least has received proof of submarine drone deployment.

CNN cites an unnamed U.S. defense official that China “stole” one of two underwater drones being commanded from the USNS Bowditch operating in international waters within the disputed region. It is being reported by CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, that the USNS Bowditch is in fact an “oceanographic vessel” and that “the drone was simply measuring ocean conditions.” However, it should be noted that a Reuters report adds that the collected info about water composition “can help inform U.S. military sonar data since such factors affect sound.”

The Pentagon itself has not yet commented on the incident (see update 1 below – Ed.), nor has China declared their reasoning for the seizure (see updated 2 below – Ed.), but that didn’t stop CNN’s correspondent to imply that the incident could have been spurred by President-Elect Trump’s “violation of the US’s agreement with China’s ‘One China policy'” after he received a call from the president of Taiwan.

Perhaps, but the dangerous U.S. military games being played in The South China Sea have occurred long before Donald Trump came on the scene. As the Navy Times stated in October 2015:

When reports that the U.S. was planning to challenge China’s island claims surfaced in May (2015), a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson urged “relevant countries to refrain from taking risky and provocative action,” according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

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Since that statement there has only been escalation, and any use of submarine drones in the region  seems like a very unwise “risky and provocative” maneuver, especially as wider political tensions continue to rise. It will also be interesting to see if China releases any technical information about the particular drone that they seized.

UPDATE 1: Pentagon spokesman, Jeff Davis, issued a statement that the United States government considers this event to be theft of military property, and is a serious and unlawful action. The drone is valued at $150,000. “It is ours, and it is clearly marked as ours and we would like it back. And we would like this not to happen again,” Davis stated. (Source – ZeroHedge)

UPDATE 2: China has accused the U.S. of “hyping up” the seizure of their drone as a “theft” when, they assert, they were merely trying to examine unidentified equipment that a naval vessel became concerned about. Regardless, they have announced that they have been in communication with the U.S. and will give back the drone. According to Reuters, China’s Defence Ministry added the following comments:

“China decided to return it to the U.S. side in an appropriate manner, and China and the U.S. have all along been in communication about it,” the ministry said on its website.

“During this process, the U.S. side’s unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this,” it added.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump weighed in to the row on Saturday, tweeting: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.”

Without directly saying whether the drone was operating in waters China considers its own, the ministry said U.S. ships and aircraft have for a long period been carrying out surveillance and surveys in “the presence” of Chinese waters.

“China is resolutely opposed to this, and demands the U.S. stops this kind of activity,” it said.

China will remain on alert for these sorts of activities and take necessary steps to deal with them, the ministry said without elaborating.

(Source: Yahoo! News/Reuters)

Feel free to leave your comments below on where these continued confrontations are likely to lead.

Nicholas West writes for This article may be freely reposted in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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15 Comments on "China Seizes U.S. Submarine Drone In Disputed Territory Of The South China Sea (UPDATED)"

  1. Maybe the next model should have a stealth explosive charge built in to be used should this happen again. That they stood by and watched the Chinese just rip this thing off is a little hard to understand. After all these were sailors from the American Navy and that drone was their property and in their custody. Iran got ahold of one that either was electronically taken over or crashed on purpose. And now our Navy seems to have watched one get up and basically walk away too. So what are we going to do to China again if they don’t cease and desist from their island building & drone ripoff adventures in the South China Sea?? With Obama still at the helm?? That’s what I thought…nothing.

    • “That they stood by and watched the Chinese just rip this thing off is a little hard to understand. ”

      Not too puzzling when one understands TPTB’s goal is to weaken and fracture the US to pave the way for global governance.

      • Howdy, blue! Yep, this sounds oddly like the ready-to-mothball ships we let the Japs blow up in Pearl Harbor. But wait…. ! CNN says it was really a scientific drone.. No wait, it’s all Trump’s fault for speaking to Taiwan. No wait, it’s fake media!

        LOL… goodbye Matrix, it was fun knowing ya.

        • Yeah, yeah, can’t keep this stuff straight, a hurricane of lies and BS. Good thing for the elites most people already forgot what happened in last week’s episode of As The Whirled Turned. Ha! P.S. You were right about the shift, I noticed it manifesting 3 days ago. Luv yer crystal ball!

          • Yep, 3 days ago for me, too. I’m learning to ride them pretty well. We have solstice coming up (I’m ready, it’s -14 tonight, brrrr) always a big gateway, and then BPEarthwatch is talking about a major bolt of juice from the cosmic egg. I’m feeling pretty good all in all, course I’m a ski freak so I’m in hog heaven up here in snow country. Hope you are warm and cozy.

          • I’ve been esp. anxious this year anticipating the solstice. I have no idea what “a major bolt of juice from the cosmic egg” hints at, though it intuitively sounds great. Thanks for the earlier heads up!

          • Ha! Sorry for being cryptic. It’s a gamma burst from an exploding neutron star due to reach earth 12/26 or so. BPEarthwatch is a popular You Tube Dude, a religious fundamentalist with a brain, very informative but without being preachy. Predicting earthquakes and solar storms is his gig, he’s good.

          • Got it, thanks.

  2. Effective Oct. 1, the US plutocracy, via Obummer puppet in chief, turned US control over internet protocols to ICANN knowing China is poised to take on a major share of control over the global management of the net, worth nearly a trillion dollars in profit from data collection.

    So….NWO China and NWO US are going to get in cat fight over some glorified rocks in the S. China Seas….despite the fact that both nations signed the 2030 Treaty in the recent Paris UN climate change meeting giving control over the world’s oceans to the UN and multinational corporations. ???

  3. Kids, kids, kids don’t fight over the drone.
    Give it to me.

  4. Hey, I just stumbled on this now scrolling notifications. I didn’t get your reply as a message in my Disqus email notification. Also, increasingly I’m seeing long delays (up to ~12-24 hrs) for notices directly on Disqus. Occasionally I don’t receive any notification, ever, later noticing the replies directly on the threads. Now, of course, I’m backed up with messages and personal emails, again! I need to answer a reply and I’ll check back soon (I hope!) P.S. I didn’t mean to bellyache, just a heads up if I don’t respond promptly it probably because I’m backed up or didn’t see your reply. Always appreciate your insight and info.

    • Whenever I drop a link this happens. I tried all kinds of ways to fool the censors but nothing I tried worked so I just don’t bother anymore. No problem, nothing critical.

  5. the .de is the first giveaway it’s a joke or a psy op (same thing at this point!), plus even a clown puppet like Trump wouldn’t say that LOL 😉 You can also verify via searches with “Trump flat earth hoax” (with or without the word hoax) and find out he did not say what’s being reported in the link.

  6. If the US of A would just mind their own G-D damn business instead of policing the world, this would not be an issue.

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