China has agreed to return the US Navy’s unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) which was unlawfully seized in the South China Sea.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement: “Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States."
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun also issued a statement quoted by AP as saying: “China decided to transfer it to the US through appropriate means.”
Details about when it will be returned remain unknown.
The incident occurred when the vessel, along with another UUV, was being recovered by US oceanographic survey ship USNS Bowditch in the South China Sea.
Pentagon press operations director navy captain Jeff Davis said that the Chinese Navy’s Dalang-III class submarine rescue vessel launched a small boat and seized the vessel.
The US research vessel made bridge-to-bridge contact with the Chinese navy ship requesting to return the vessel, but was ignored by the Chinese authority.
Davis said: “It’s certainly not something we consider to be commensurate with their level as a professional military.”
Cook added: “The USNS Bowditch 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.”