WASHINGTON – China has returned to the U.S. an unmanned underwater drone the Chinese Navy seized unlawfully last week in international waters, the Pentagon said. China’s defense ministry said it handed the drone back after “friendly consultations.”
The Chinese Navy vessel that had seized the drone returned it near the location where it had been taken, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement issued late Monday. The incident occurred last Thursday near the Philippines.
The USS Mustin received the vehicle for the U.S. in international waters about 50 miles northwest of Subic Bay, according to Cook.
The U.S. said the drone was being operated by civilian contractors collecting unclassified scientific data in international waters. Officials say a noncombat ship was recovering two drones when a Chinese ship approached, launched a small boat and picked up one of them.
Cook said the U.S. will continue to investigate the incident.
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