Home / Beach Living / Chinese balloon shot down over coast, possible debris brought to shore in North Myrtle Beach

Chinese balloon shot down over coast, possible debris brought to shore in North Myrtle Beach


As the entire country was glued to their phones and TVs last week following and charting the path of the Chinese spy balloon, a potential international diplomatic crisis cast a spotlight on the city of North Myrtle Beach and the whole of the Grand Strand as the balloon was shot down by American fighter jets on Saturday, Feb. 4, after it reached the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

“The balloon, which was being used by the People’s Republic of China in an attempt to surveil strategic sites and in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

Sailors assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command division of the Navy then recovered the “high-altitude surveillance balloon” off the coast of the Myrtle Beach area on Sunday, and eyewitness evidence has pinpointed the Johnny Causey Boat Landing in North Myrtle Beach as a potential location where American military has brought it to land.

Videos and pictures have surfaced across social media of the potential balloon aboard what looks to be U.S. Navy ships, although as of press time American officials have not officially confirmed this.

Vehicles, as well as several ships and personnel that appear to represent the Navy have been confirmed at the boat landing, and the vehicles have been spotted traveling down Highway 17 in North Myrtle Beach. The boat landing has also not been cordoned off and large groups of spectators and national media members have been observing the recovery and collection efforts right next to the Intracoastal Waterway.

When the balloon first appeared last week flying over the continental United States, the Chinese government was quick to claim that it was merely a “weather balloon” that was blown off course and downplayed any suggestion that it served a nefarious purpose while it slowly crept its way across the skyline of the United States.

American military officials have categorically denied the claim of the Chinese, however, asserting its intention was to spy on the U.S. and its citizens.

The only question that seemingly remains for leaders of America is exactly what was it spying on and what sort of information and intelligence did it collect.

The balloon was first detected by American officials on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, when it entered U.S. airspace near the Aleutian Islands. Senior military officials have said that the surveillance balloon purposely traversed the U.S. and Canada seeking to monitor sensitive military sites. They have also said that long before it was shot down over the ocean American officials took steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, and its overflight of the nation was also of intelligence value to the U.S.

Additionally, the recovery will now enable analysts with the American military to study the Chinese equipment.

The balloon was trailed by military fighter jets flying out of Langley Air Force Base in Virginia as it inched its way over the Carolinas and Horry County, and they locked in closely as it approached the coast. Senior defense officials have said they waited to shoot it down until there was no undue risk of debris causing harm to civilians while it was flying over the country. As soon as it reached the coast, a F-22 Raptor fighter jet fired a single missile and downed the balloon in the ocean.

The military then shifted into recovering the apparatus, with the Navy and Coast Guard partnering to plan and execute the mission. The USS Carter Hall is the lead ship of the mission, along with multiple units including ships, aircraft and a mobile diving and salvage unit.

About Ruben Lowman