CHINA TOPIX

Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 11, 2019

Make CT Your Homepage

Real Reason for China’s Seizing US Underwater Glider Revealed

Fear

(Photo : US Navy) A U.S. Navy underwater glider of the type taken by the Chinese.

China has revealed the real reason for its theft of an underwater glider of the U.S. Navy was driven by the fear the Americans are "shaping" the underwater battlefields of the South China Sea to give U.S. submarines a huge advantage in a future undersea war.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the deployment of the underwater glider was part of a long-running U.S. military effort "to carry out close-up surveillance and military surveys in waters facing China, which threatens China's sovereignty and security."

Like Us on Facebook

In other words, China still clings to its illegal claim it owns most of the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12 declared China's claim illegal and unlawful.

On Dec. 20, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ship 510 returned a U.S. Navy Ocean Glider Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) to the United States, near the location where it had been unlawfully seized on Dec. 15.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Mustin (DDG-89), recovered the vehicle in international waters some 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay in Zambales province in northern Philippines.

The U.S. Navy operates over 100 UUVs to measure ocean data. It uses the gliders to collect ocean temperature; salinity and depth information and transmit the unclassified data to Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) for assimilation into NAVOCEANO's operational ocean models.

Some Chinese military analysts speculate the glider was "conducting espionage activities" in the South China Sea. The UUV was collecting underwater information that could "be provided to its (U.S. Navy) submarines, allowing them to freely roam under the water."

The underwater drone seized by China was deployed by the oceanographic survey ship USNS Bowditch.

"The drone is not very big, like a small robot, but if it found out enough about the underwater signal features of submarines, a database could be created which could be offered to US navy submarines and the anti-submarine warships," Yue said.

"With such information, it could quickly identify if a submarine was a normal one or a nuclear-powered one, and this could pose a grave threat to China's military security.

Some Chinese and western analysts, however, believes the seizure of the American UUV reflected China's concerns about the growing use of these hard to detect underwater drones in the contested waters.

By reverse engineering this UUV, China gained more information that will allow it to build better UUVs than it has today.

"The drone is not very big, like a small robot, but if it found out enough about the underwater signal features of submarines, a database could be created which could be offered to US navy submarines and the anti-submarine warships," said Yue Gang, a retired colonel in the People's Liberation Army.

"With such information, it could quickly identify if a submarine was a normal one or a nuclear-powered one, and this could pose a grave threat to China's military security.

"It is constructing a battlefield and preparing for war under the sea. China must respond strongly."

Intriguingly, China held its first ever underwater drone symposium two days after it seized the U.S. UUV.

Real Time Analytics