Chinese Submarine ‘Trapped’ In Indonesian Fisherman’s Net; Images Burst The Internet: Watch

An Indonesian fisherman caught a Chinese ‘submarine’ — purportedly a ‘Sea Wing’ UUV–  floating near Selayar Island, pointing to the possibility of China secretly surveying the Indonesian waters. The sea route is close to the disputed South China Sea and the strategic Indian Ocean region. 

The Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) found by the fisherman, Saeruddin, was handed over to the local police, who then gave it to the Indonesian military. The 225-centimeter long torpedo-shaped UUV had an 18-cm tail, 93-cm rear antenna, and camera-like objects on it, the local media reported.

Indonesia-based security and defense analyst  @Jatosint said that the object looked “very similar” to China’s underwater glider, Sea Wing. The Chinese Sea Wing operated using a buoyancy compensation system filled with oil and is used for oceanographic research and has onboard sensors to measure seawater temperature, salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll, oxygen content, and ocean current changes, Naval Drones noted.

Developed by the state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sea Wings were reportedly deployed in the Indian Ocean, Forbes reported in March. The report further said that 14 such UUVs were supposed to be deployed in the Indian Ocean region but only 12 were used. 

The glider was tested in 2017 and reportedly set a new world record by reaching a depth of 6,329 meters. The previous record of 6,003 meters was set by a US vessel. Quoting the developer, the Chinese media reported that the glider has a special “coat” made of light carbon fiber material to protect it from the huge pressure in the deep sea. 

The reports further claimed that in October 2014, the Sea Wing swam 1,022.5 kilometers nonstop in 30 days during a test, setting a record in China for the longest time and distance covered by an underwater glider.

This isn’t the first time that Chinese submarines have been found near Indonesian territory. A similar object was found by another fisherman in March 2019 near the Riau Islands.

In January this year, a yellow torpedo-shaped object was reportedly found near the Masalembu Islands. Such findings raise the possibility of illegal surveillance using these submarines in foreign waters.

With increasing tensions between China, countries including India and the US have ramped up their navies in the region. Analysts have noted that China continues to pursue assertive maritime activities in the region. 

In 2016, China had seized a US Navy glider operating with US Military Sealift Command ship USNS Bowditch (T-AGS-62), about 50 miles off Subic Bay in the Philippines. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) used its ship ASR-510, a Dalang III-class ship, approached within 500 yards of the Bowditch, and seized the glider by launching a small boat. 

The matter got escalated as the PLAN refused to return the glider to the US Navy. “Bowditch made contact with the PRC Navy ship via bridge-to-bridge radio to request the return of the UUV. The radio contact was acknowledged by the PRC Navy ship, but the request was ignored.

The UUV is a sovereign immune vessel of the United States. We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law,” Pentagon said in a statement at the time.

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