Australian navy divers were “likely” injured by sonar pulses emitted by a Chinese warship this week, the country’s defence minister said Saturday, accusing Beijing of “unsafe and unprofessional” conduct at sea.
Richard Marles said the HMAS Toowoomba — a long-range frigate — had been supporting United Nations sanctions enforcement efforts within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The divers had plunged into the water to clear fishing nets from the ship’s propeller, Marles said, when the vessel was approached by a Chinese destroyer.
“Despite acknowledging Toowoomba’s communications, the Chinese vessel approached at a closer range,” he added in a statement that did not reveal the number of divers involved.
“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.”
The divers sustained minor injuries that doctors believed were “likely” linked to the sonar pulses, Marles said.
“This is unsafe and unprofessional conduct,” he said.
“Australia expects all countries, including China, to operate their militaries in a professional and safe…
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