Oceanographic survey vessel USNS Bowditch was on a routine mission with a mostly civilian crew in the South China Sea last Thursday to recover two unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), which collect information on water conditions that help US vessels operate.
A Chinese Dalang III-class submarine rescue vessel approached and launched a small boat. It seized a UUV and brought it aboard, said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis.
The Bowditch contacted the Chinese ship for the glider to be returned, he said. The Chinese ship acknowledged the communication, but returned to normal operations and left the area. The incident took place 50 nautical miles north-west of Subic Bay in the Philippines.