HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Search efforts for the remnants of the Chinese spy balloon shot down off the Horry County coastline on Saturday have been paused, a Navy official told CBS News Friday afternoon.
The official said the search effort likely will be on hold over the weekend because of poor weather conditions. The official also confirmed that a salvage ship called Rosebud has arrived in the area.
Pentagon Secretary Pat Ryder said in a briefing Friday afternoon that recovery teams have mapped a debris field and will search for debris on the ocean floor.
Ryder said a “significant” amount of debris has been located and underwater recovery will continue as conditions permit.
“As we map out the area where the debris field would be, it enables us to figure out where the places that we need to prioritize the search, recognizing that we’re talking a wide area,” Ryder said. “As that happens, divers are able to go down — and depending on the size of the debris — they’re able to tag it.”
Ryder said debris that can be quickly brought up is put on a vessel and taken ashore.
“Debris that’s going to take more time — and again, especially given the current sea states, it may take a little longer — we know where it is, so we tag it and we’ll go back and eventually recover all of that and bring it up,” Ryder said.
“There’s frustration and there’s a lot of pressure that should be being applied right now to scientists, engineers, and our intelligence professionals,” said Mark Chandler, a defense intelligence expert and Coastal Carolina University professor.
Chandler told News13 on Monday that the balloon could intercept communications signals, a theory the Biden administration affirmed on Thursday.
“A great test opportunity for the Chinese to look at our response mechanisms, timelines, and the communications involved in that to help them in any future scenario,” Chandler said.
China denied those allegations and claimed the United States is engaging in information warfare.
Biden said the balloon was “not a major breach” while adding it was “a violation of international law.”
The balloon first crossed into American airspace at the end of January. It was shot down off the Carolina coast a week later.
“I do think it’s a big deal and I am concerned about the length of time that we allowed that to take place,” Chandler said.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed in a White House briefing Friday that the U.S. military on the orders of President Joe Biden shot down another object over Alaska on Friday.
Kirby said the Defense Department had been tracking a high-altitude object in Alaskan airspace over the past 24 hours. It was flying at 40,000 feet and posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight, Kirby said. It was shot down inside U.S. territorial waters.
Officials have not said who owned the object and added that it was smaller than the balloon shot down off the South Carolina coastline.
📲 Download the News13 app to stay updated on the go.
📧 Sign up for WBTW email alerts to have breaking news sent to your inbox.
💻 Find today’s top stories on WBTW.com for the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.
Count on News13 for updates.
* * *
Dennis Bright is a digital producer at News13. Dennis is a West Virginia native and graduate of Marshall University. He has won copyediting and journalism awards in Virginia and Ohio. Follow Dennis on Twitter and read more of his work here.
* * *
Manny Martinez is the weekend evening anchor and a reporter at News13. Manny is from Chicago. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in broadcast journalism. Follow Manny on Twitter and read more of his work here.