On December 16 a Chinese warship snatched a U.S. underwater drone literally from under the eyes of the crew of a U.S. survey ship. The USNS Bowditch is an unarmed naval oceanographic vessel that was recovering two underwater drones in the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ), about 50 miles northwest of Subic Bay.
Captain Raul (Pete) Pedrozo, U.S. Navy (Ret.), is the Howard S. Levie Chair on the Law of Armed Conflict and Professor of International Law in the Stockton Center for International Law at the U.S. Naval War College. He was a Peer Reviewer for the International Committee of the Red Cross Commentary of 2017 on the Convention (II) for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members Of the Armed Forces at Sea (1949) and is currently one of two U.S. representative to the International Group of Experts for the San Remo Manual on the Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, produced by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law. Prior to his retirement from the Navy he served as the senior legal advisor to Commander, U.S. Pacific Command and was a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Pedrozo is co-author of the forthcoming, "Emerging Technology and the Law of the Sea" (Oxford University Press).
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Much has been written over the past several days regarding the unanimous landmark decision in the arbitration case between the Philippines and China, which soundly repudiates China’s excessive claims and activities in the South China Sea.
As part of the September 2015 fanfare visit by Xi Xinping to the United States, the United States and China signed an arrangement on rules of behavior for safety of air-to-air encounters of military aircraft. The deal is supposed to avert aviation incidents in international airspace between military aircraft of the United States and China. In a deadly 2001 incident, for example, a Chinese F-8 fighter jet interceptor collided with a U.S.
The United States has been unable to synchronize successful air and sea freedom of navigation (FON) operations in the South China Sea with an erratic diplomatic message and a legal case that is too clever by half. Our colleagues Bonnie Glaser and Peter Dutton tried to reconnect these dimensions when they wrote in the The National Interest that while the administration has not done a “stellar job of explaining its actions,” the U.S.