Naval War College Review

Article Title

Close Encounters at Sea


Raul Pedrozo


On 23 March 2001, the hydrographic survey ship USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62) was conducting routine military survey operations in China’s claimed exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Yellow Sea when it was “aggressively confronted” by a Chinese Jianheu III–class frigate and ordered to leave the EEZ. Being an unarmed naval auxiliary vessel, Bowditch changed course and left the area as instructed. A few days later, the U.S. embassy filed a strongly worded diplomatic protest with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Bowditch returned to the area of the encounter, this time with an armed U.S. escort, to continue its mission.