China Claims It’s Collected a Submarine-Finding Sonar Device Dropped By the US Navy in the South China Sea

Photo Credit: Greg L. Davis / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Photo Credit: Greg L. Davis / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

China has allegedly recovered a US-deployed submarine-finding sonar device in a contested area of the South China Sea. News of the discovery was announced by Yuyuan Tantian, a social media account operated by state-run China Central Television.

Boeing P-8A Poseidon taking off
US Navy P-8A Poseidon departing Perth International Airport, 2014. (Photo Credit: Matt Jelonek / Getty Images)

In an undated 40-second video posted by Yuyuan Tantian to Weibo, China’s version of X, a US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon (a maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft) can be seen dropping several objects, one of which reportedly fell into the South China Sea, near the Second Thomas Shoal.

The post described what happened as “US military aircraft circling over the South China Sea and dropping unidentified objects.” Yuyuan Tantian also revealed, “After the incident, the China Coast Guard immediately went to the area to salvage and inspect the unknown electronic items in accordance with laws and regulations.”

Satellite view of the Second Thomas Shoal
Satellite view of the Second Thomas Shoal. (Photo Credit: Gallo Images / Orbital Horizon / Copernicus Sentinel Data 2021 / Getty Images)

The video clip then cuts to labels on a device, which lists Ultra Electronics Undersea Sensor Systems, Inc. as the manufacturer. According to NewsWeek, the company is a defense contractor based out of the United Kingdom that “develops a range of naval products, from radar and electronic warfare products, ranging from sonobuoys to electromagnetic interference filters.”

Speaking with Yuyuan Tantian, maritime expert Yang Xiao stated the underwater device could “detect” and “counter” signals coming from Chinese submarines. In response to the news, Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said the country doesn’t appreciate the United States getting involved in the South China Sea.

Two Chinese Coast Guard vessels using water cannons against a Philippine ship
China Coast Guard vessels deploying water cannons at the Philippine military chartered Unaizah during a supply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal, 2024. (Photo Credit: JAM STA ROSA / AFP / Getty Images)

The area of the South China Sea where the submarine-finding sonar device was dropped, in the archipelago of the Spratly Islands, has been a topic of dispute and conflict for both the Philippines and China.

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Rising tensions have led to increased clashes in the area, with the Chinese Coast Guard, in particular, ramming Philippine vessels and using water cannons against supply boats. Such tactics, which have since escalated to hand-to-hand combat, have prompted the Philippine government to liken China’s actions in the region to piracy.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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