WARSHIP TO RECOVER DRONE
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.