Australian government on Saturday has expressed serious concerns to China after an “unsafe and unprofessional” interaction between it navy vessel and Chinese warship left Australian military divers injured.
Defence Minister Richard Marles shared the details that HMAS Toowoomba – a long range frigate – was conducting a diving operation in Japan’s exclusive economic zone on November 14 to clear fishing nets from its propellers when the incident occurred.
“While diving operations were under way a PLA-N destroyer (DDG-139) operating in the vicinity closed towards HMAS Toowoomba,” stated Marles referring to the ship of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
He added the despite further intimation to the Chinese warship regarding the diving operation, the vessel approached “at a closer range.”
“Soon after, it was detected operating its hull-mounted sonar in a manner that posed a risk to the safety of the Australian divers who were forced to exit the water.”
Marles termed the conduct as “unprofessional” and “unsafe.”
The Defense Minister informed that the divers suffered minor injuries, which were most likely due to the sonar pulses sent by the destroyer.
Asserting that Australian military personnel’s safety and well-being is the government’s “utmost priority,” Marles noted that the country “expects all countries, including China, to operate their military operations in a professional and safe manner.”