China Harasses Unarmed US Ship

By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2009 2:20 PM CDT
USNS Impeccable   (US Navy)

(Newser) – The US lodged a formal protest in Beijing after Chinese ships harrassed an unarmed US Navy surveillance vessel yesterday in international waters in the South China Seas. The 5 ships moved to within 50 feet of the USNS Impeccable, CNN reports. The Navy is said to have sprayed one ship with fire hoses to force it away, but the Chinese crew members stripped to their underwear and closed to within 25 feet.

After the Impeccable signaled that it was seeking a safe path out of 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 Pentagon said, citing three other incidents of harassment in the previous week.  White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said this afternoon the US would continue to operate in the area and urged China to observe international maritime rules.