The fallen Chinese spy balloon’s scattered components have surfaced from the ocean’s depths on Tuesday, thanks in part to U.S. Navy divers who used advanced reconnaissance drones that were called the Swordfish and the Kingfish to make the process faster.
The balloon debris is spread over an area the size of 15 football fields long as well as 15 football fields wide, but it is submerged in seas that are around 50 feet deep.
The blimp was retrieved despite an angry representative for the Chinese Foreign Ministry stating, “The airship doesn’t belong to the U.S. It belongs to China,” he said, criticizing Washington for not addressing the situation “professionally.”
The recovery effort is the responsibility of the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Group #2, a unit sent to tackle IEDs, biological and chemical threats, and underwater mines.
According to UPI, U.S. Fleet Forces Command tweeted images showing the group retrieving balloon fragments onto their ship on Tuesday, with the situation serving as a background for U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address:
“U.S. fighter aircraft took down a high-altitude surveillance balloon on February 4, 2023, in U.S. sovereign airspace and over U.S. territorial waters,” according to a statement on Facebook from U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “At the direction of the United States President and with the full support of the Government of Canada.”
According to NBC News, the Navy also sent out at least five ships, that included the USNS Pathfinder and USS Carter Hall, to search the South Carolina coastline for any signs of the balloon that travelled across the country last week.
The People’s Republic of China was using the balloon to examine “strategic areas” in the United States, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, creating an “undue danger.”
Voters went against the Biden admin. for its slow reaction, seemingly concurring that they were seeing Chinese Communist statecraft rather as benign weather observation.
China has repeatedly insisted that the balloon was only used for benign purposes and has referred to it as a civilian aircraft.
Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, was questioned on Tuesday about the ownership of the balloons that had been seen above various nations and the type of data they were gathering. She said she was at a loss for words.
Mao was also questioned over whether China contacted Washington to return the debris.
“The airship is not American property. China owns it,” she retorted.
“The Chinese airship is unmanned and of a civilian character. Its unintentional arrival into U.S. airspace is wholly unexpected and brought on by a force beyond its control. It didn’t threaten anyone or the national security of the US in any way,” said Mao.
“The United States should have appropriately handled such occurrences in a professional, non-violent manner without using force, but they chose to behave otherwise, which is an obvious overreaction.”
This week, Gen. Glen VanHerck, the commander of U.S. Northern Command and the man in charge of the recovery attempt, and a few Biden admin. officials will inform the U.S. congress members about the balloon.