The Mercury News
Navy divers begin pulling up debris
WASHINGTON >> Navy divers began pulling pieces of the downed Chinese spy balloon from the depths of the ocean floor on Tuesday, using sophisticated reconnaissance drones dubbed the Kingfish and the Swordfish to locate the debris.
After collecting all of the balloon's white fabric and shell structure found floating on the surface, the Navy has now shifted to an all-underwater search for the remnants of the massive balloon that a U.S. fighter jet shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, officials said.
Navy and Coast Guard personnel were using underwater drones to locate and map the debris field, and divers were in the water gathering up what they could, officials said.
The debris already collected was being hauled by small boats to a few area locations, including a Coast Guard station south of Myrtle Beach, and, depending on the size, will eventually go either to the FBI lab at Quantico, Virginia, or other sites where experts can analyze it, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of an ongoing military operation.
The head of U.S. Northern Command, Gen. Glen VanHerck, who is in charge of the recovery effort, and several Biden administration officials will brief members of Congress on the balloon today and Thursday.
Lawmakers have raised a number of questions about whether the balloon was able to collect intelligence and transmit it back to China during the time it traveled eastward across the United States, after crossing the border from Canada into Idaho.
White House and Pentagon officials have largely avoided providing any details on the balloon's capabilities. Officials said Tuesday the U.S. was very aware of the sites the balloon crossed over — including nuclear missile silos and other military installations — and knows how to protect them from any intelligence collection.