In a statement released today by the Defense Department describes an incident in the South China Sea in which several ships in the Chinese Navy hassled the unarmed USNS Impeccable, an Ocean Surveillance Ship operating in international waters. The Chinese are reportedly claiming that the vessel was engaged in illegal surveying off the coast of Hainan Island.
Though it did not appear to be a serious attempt to attack the vessel, the Pentagon reports that one of the vessels “came damn close to colliding” with it, forcing the Impeccable to make an emergency stop. The ship hosed down one of the Chinese vessels with fire hoses in an attempt to force it away. The Chinese ships reportedly dropped pieces of wood in the Impeccable’s path and ordered it to leave the area in what the Pentagon described as “one of the most aggressive actions we’ve seen in some time.”
The Obama Administration will be delivering a formal protest to the Chinese military attache, and has dispatched the Aegis destroyer USS Chung-Hoon to the area “as a precaution.”