CNN and Reuters are reporting today that China will return the unmanned underwater drone it seized in the South China Sea. The drone was deployed by Stennis Space Center oceanographers aboard the USNS Bowditch.
From the Washington Post:
“…ships such as the Bowditch routinely conduct operations in the South China Sea. The Navy said the drones are operated by the Naval Oceanographic Office, which states in its promotional materials that it maintains the largest glider fleet in the world, with more than 130 ‘littoral battlespace sensing’ crafts.
“The gliders are piloted by civilian employees of the oceanographic office from Stennis Space Center in Mississippi through the use of encrypted satellite communications. They typically travel just a few miles per hour and are tracked by oceanographic vessels such as the USNS Bowditch. The data the drones collect is unclassified.”