The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

In a clear mes­sage to Bei­jing, the Pen­tagon this week dis­patched a guided mis­sile de­stroyer to re­cover an un­der­wa­ter drone snatched by the Chi­nese navy four days ear­lier.

The Ar­leigh Burke-class de­stroyer USS Mustin, part of the Pa­cific Fleet, sailed from a port call at Cam Ranh Bay, Viet­nam, to ren­dezvous with the Chi­nese in a care­fully chore­ographed han­dover of the un­der­wa­ter re­search glider, ac­cord­ing to Pen­tagon of­fi­cials.

Dur­ing the ex­change, sailors aboard the Chi­nese navy ship tied a rope to the tail of the drone and set it loose in the area of the South China Sea near the Philip­pines, where it was taken on Dec. 15.

A small in­flat­able boat dis­patched from the Mustin sailed to a point mid­way be­tween the drone and Chi­nese ship, where one of the sailors grabbed the rope and re­trieved the 30-foot re­search ves­sel. The un­der­wa­ter glider orig­i­nally was dis­patched by the Navy’s USS Bowditch, an ocean sur­vey ship.

No ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween the U.S. and Chi­nese navies took place in the drone re­cov­ery. The han­dover ended the lat­est in­ci­dent that has strained U.S.-Chi­nese re­la­tions and high­lighted China’s il­le­gal mar­itime claims over the South China Sea.

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