Pentagon: Chinese Ships Harassed Unarmed U.S. Navy Craft in International Waters

A U.S. Department of Defense official said today that Chinese ships “threatened, harassed and interferred with USNS Impeccable in international waters.”

Such action would be a violation of international law and the Obama Administration is expected to issue a protest.

The Pentagon official also told Peace and Freedom that Chinese sailors, “stripped to their underwear and made obscene gestures to the U.S. ship and her crew.”

China’s navy, which recently announced the construction of an aircraft carrier, also said today it was extending its anti-paracy mission near Somalia and its overal naval shipbouilding effort and navy expansion was not a threat to anybody….

Just after George W. Bush became president, a Chinese jet-fighter buzzed a Navy surveillance airplane in international airspace over the South China Sea, causing a midair collision that killed the Chinese pilot and resulted in the detention of the 24-member American crew for 11 days after their plane made an emergency landing on Hainan Island.  That was in April 2001.

From CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03
/09/us.navy.china/index.html

 China Says Its Navy Expansion “No threat to others”

China Extends Navy’s Anti-Piracy Mission Near Somalia

Speculation grows on China aircraft carrier plans

U.S. Lodges Protest With Beijing:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/washi
ngton/10military.html?_r=1&ref=world

*****************

The Pentagon charged that five Chinese ships harassed an unarmed U.S. Navy craft in international waters a day after threatening , as the Obama administration readies a protest of the action to the Chinese government.

Associated Press

The Pentagon charged Monday that five Chinese ships shadowed and maneuvered dangerously close to a U.S. Navy vessel in an apparent attempt to harass the American crew.

Defense officials in the Obama administration said the incident Sunday followed several days of “increasingly aggressive” acts by Chinese ships in the region. The incident took place in international waters in the South China Sea, about 75 miles south of Hainan Island.

U.S. officials said a protest was to be delivered to Beijing’s military attache at a Pentagon meeting Monday.

The USNS Impeccable sprayed one ship with water from fire hoses to force it away. Despite the force of the water, Chinese crew members stripped to their underwear and continued closing within 25 feet, the Defense Department said.

USNS IMPECCABLE
USNS Impeccable

“On March 8, 2009, five Chinese vessels shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in dangerously close proximity to USNS Impeccable, in an apparent coordinated effort to harass the U.S. ocean surveillance ship while it was conducting routine operations in international waters,” the Pentagon statement said.

The Chinese ships included a Chinese Navy intelligence collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries Patrol Vessel, a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel, and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers, officials said.

“The Chinese vessels surrounded USNS Impeccable, two of them closing to within 50 feet, waving Chinese flags and telling Impeccable to leave the area,” officials said in the statement.

“Because the vessels’ intentions were not known, Impeccable sprayed its fire hoses at one of the vessels in order to protect itself,” the Defense statement said. “The Chinese crew members disrobed to their underwear and continued closing to within 25 feet.”

Impeccable crew radioed to tell the Chinese ships that it was leaving the area and requested a safe path to navigate, the Pentagon said.

But shortly afterward, two of the Chinese ships stopped directly ahead of the Impeccable, forcing it to an emergency stop to avoid collision because the Chinese had dropped pieces of wood in the water directly in front of Impeccable’s path.

In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, crewmember on a Chinese ... 
In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, crewmember on a Chinese trawler uses a grapple hook in an apparent attempt to snag the towed acoustic array Sunday, March 8, 2009 of the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009. Impeccable was conducting routine survey operations in international waters 75 miles south of Hainan Island when it was harassed by five Chinese vessels. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

“The unprofessional maneuvers by Chinese vessels violated the requirement under international law to operate with due regard for the rights and safety of other lawful users of the ocean,” said Marine Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman.

“We expect Chinese ships to act responsibly and refrain from provocative activities that could lead to miscalculation or a collision at sea, endangering vessels and the lives of U.S. and Chinese mariners,” Upton added.

In Beijing, Chinese officials did not immediately respond to voicemail messages and e-mail.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/
03/09/pentagon-chinese-ships-harassed-
unarmed-navy-craft-international-waters/

Related:
 What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

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