A Chinese government survey ship was intercepted “running dark” without broadcasting its position via AIS (Automated Information System by Indonesian officials. The incident is latest twist in an ongoing maritime saga which has also seen Chinese uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs) found in Indonesia’s territorial waters.
The survey ship, Xiang Yang Hong 03, left its base at Sanya on Hainan Island, China, on the morning of Jan. 6. It was intercepted by the Indonesian Coast Guard near the Sunda Strait during the week of January 11. All ships transiting the strategically important strait are required to be on AIS and when confronted the crew Xiang Yang Hong 03claimed that its AIS was damaged, according to press reports.
“Indonesia requires all ships transiting the world’s only archipelagic sea lanes to have functioning AIS and forbids them from carrying out oceanographic research,” according to Asia Times.
“The Maritime Security Agency said the Xiang Yang Hong 03 killed its transponder twice while passing through the Natuna islands at the southern end of the South China Sea and later in the Karimata Strait, northeast of the island of Belitung.”
The interception comes after a Chinese made Sea Wing UUV was discovered in Indonesian waters in late December. It was the latest of at least four Sea Wing gilder UUVs discovered in the region. Gilders are commonly used to gather data about currents, acoustics and the maritime environment. They use forward momentum created by repeatedly sinking and then rising in a method called variable-buoyancy propulsion. Many countries operate underwater gliders. The main U.S. equivalent is the Slocum G3, which the US.. Navy has deployed as the LBS-G (Littoral Battlespace Sensing-Glider).