Impeccable Impeded


The United States naval surveillance ship USNS Impeccable has met with some “harassment” by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Pentagon said Monday that Chinese ships harassed a U.S. surveillance ship Sunday in the South China Sea in the latest of several instances of “increasingly aggressive conduct.”

During the incident, 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 said in a written statement.

The crew members aboard the vessels, two of which were within 50 feet, waved Chinese flags and told the U.S. ship to leave the area, the statement said.

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

After the Impeccable alerted the Chinese ships “in a friendly manner” that it was seeking a safe path to depart the area, two of the Chinese ships stopped “directly ahead of USNS Impeccable, forcing Impeccable to conduct an emergency ‘all stop’ in order to avoid collision,” the statement said.

“They dropped pieces of wood in the water directly in front of Impeccable’s path.”

It’s a troubling incident. I’ve no way of knowing whether this conduct was officially sanctioned on the part of the Chinese authorities or merely a case of over-zealous actions by a few captains but it highlights the dangers of the very aggressive language we’ve heard from time to time from Chinese military authorities.

The picture above is a file photo of the USNS Impeccable.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    I knew a guy who was on the helm of a US Navy ship when they hit a Soviet trawler, after a game of chicken. Maybe I shouldn’t say when or where.

    Opponents play these games. It’s sad that when we have so much trade with China that one (or both) Navies are on a different page.

  2. Wayne says:

    Many will test the new administration to see if they overact, have measure but firm response, or pretty much lack a backbone. Once administration disposition is establish others will try to take advantage of it. Nothing new.

  3. DC Loser says:

    Eight years ago, about the same time a new U.S. Administration came into office, a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft collided with a Chinese PLAANAF F-8 fighter. Nearly the same place (off Hainan Island). I don’t know if there’s anything to the timing with regard to a new administration or to the location. Hainan is chock full of PLAN bases, some very sensitive (submarines). I just hope we don’t repeat what happened 8 years ago.

  4. This kind of thing isn’t particularly uncommon, though this seems a touch more serious that usual. It happened all the time during the Cold War, of course. We also had the EP-3 incident with China back in 2001, which didn’t seem to imply anything broader.

    If you put surveillance platforms close enough to actually surveil another country, you sort of have to expect a certain amount of harassment even if you are in international waters.

  5. DC Loser says:

    I wonder what our reaction would be if the Chinese started flying reconnaissance missions out fo Cuba, up and down the East Coast, close to places like Jacksonville, Savannah, Norfolk, etc., and send surveillance ships close to our 12 mile limit close by our submarine bases?

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I wonder how the Chinese (or any other potential belligerent nation) would react to a surveillance vessel being accompanies by an Iowa class battleship. It would make for a fine game of chicken.

  7. sam says:

    It happened all the time during the Cold War, of course.

    Yeah. No one really knows how many US and Soviet subs bumped into each other playing deepsea tag during those years.

  8. I wonder how the Chinese (or any other potential belligerent nation) would react to a surveillance vessel being accompanies by an Iowa class battleship.

    Well, they would probably welcome an opportunity to visit the gift shop, I guess.

  9. Steve Verdon says:

    Well, they would probably welcome an opportunity to visit the gift shop, I guess.

    Heh. Do we even have battleships (of any class) in service?

  10. GM says:

    Nope, no battleships anymore. I guess the biggest ships we have, other than aircraft carriers, are our cruisers/ destroyers.

    I guess the idea of a battleship could come back around if we start fielding railguns.

  11. Rick DeMent says:

    Heh. Do we even have battleships (of any class) in service?

    Hence Bearnard’s exposure of Zelsdorf’s woeful lack of knowledge of things military, or at least navy. These day’s there are only two kinds of navel vessels; submarines and targets.