Another day, another clash at sea between the U.S. Navy and Chinese fishing boats. This time around, the USNS Victorious was harassed by two Chinese vessels who maneuvered “dangerous[ly]” around it in the Yellow Sea.
The USNS Victorious is an unarmed ocean surveillance ship operated by a civilian crew. Its mission in the area, according to CNN, is to conduct “authorized undersea listening operations in international waters.”
From the AFP:
Spokesman Bryan Whitman said a pair of Chinese vessels last Friday approached the USNS Victorious, which he said was engaged in “routine operations,” and forced the US vessel into defensive measures.
“It is unsafe and dangerous behavior and it needs to be addressed” diplomatically, Whitman said.
The US crew, he said, “requested assistance of a nearby Chinese military vessel” prompting the fishing boats to steam away.
“This was clearly well into the international waters, 70 miles (113 kilometers) off the coast of China.”
For it’s part, China said it was “concerned” about the standoff but blamed the U.S. vessel, arguing that it was in contravention of international laws. From Reuters:
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement the ship was operating in China’s exclusive economic zone without permission and had not respected Chinese or international rules and laws.
“We express our concern about this and demand the U.S. side take effective measures to ensure a similar incident does not happen again,” Ma said in a brief statement posted on the ministry’s website (www.mfa.gov.cn)
This would be the fifth of such incidents this year. In mid-March, Chinese vessels tangled with the USNS Impeccable in the South China Sea. The Chinese sailors closed in on the Impeccable, waving Chinese flags and telling them to get out of the area. When the Impeccable sprayed water hoses at the ships to warn them away, the Chinese sailors allegedly disrobed to their underwear.
Sadly, the encounter this time around was not nearly as sexy sounding.
Photo from Ugly Ships