Chinese warship seizes a US Navy underwater drone collecting data in South China Sea

A man takes a picture of two Chinese Navy frigates Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in San Diego. Three Chinese Navy ships, two frigates and an oil tanker, are visiting San Diego this week, marking the third time in three years Chinese Navy ships have visited. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A man takes a picture of two Chinese Navy frigates Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in San Diego. Three Chinese Navy ships, two frigates and an oil tanker, are visiting San Diego this week, marking the third time in three years Chinese Navy ships have visited. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon says a Chinese warship seized a U.S. Navy unmanned underwater glider that was collecting unclassified scientific data in the South China Sea.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, says the U.S. has issued a formal diplomatic complaint and is asking for the drone’s return.

Davis says a civilian U.S. Navy ship operated by the military’s Sealift Command was recovering two of the unmanned gliders about 50 miles northwest of Subic Bay near the Philippines when the Chinese ship approached and took one of the small vessels. He says the Chinese ship acknowledged radio messages from the U.S. ship, but did not respond to demands the glider be returned.