An unmanned U.S. naval drone testing current behavior in international waters within the South China Sea was found and taken by the Chinese Navy on December 15.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis maintains that the remotely-operated ocean glider was one of two being retrieved by the USNS Bowditch, a civilian-staffed oceanographic survey ship. The 6-feet-long gliders propel themselves by changes in buoyancy, and report water conditions back to the U.S. Navy, controlled via satellite by non-military personnel from the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
“They typically travel just a few miles per hour and are tracked by oceanographic vessels such as the USNS Bowditch,” the Washington Post reports. “The data the drones collect is unclassified.”