HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Navy confirmed Friday that a Chinese spy ship has been detected off the islands.
The reason? They're eyeing RIMPAC, the world's largest international maritime exercise.
China was uninvited from this year's RIMPAC exercises because of the nation's militarization of contested islands in the South China Sea.
The country had participated in the last two RIMPAC, or Rim of the Pacific, exercises — in 2014 and 2016.
Lt. Tim Gorman, of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement Friday that authorities are "monitoring a Chinese navy surveillance ship in the vicinity of Hawaii."
"We expect the ship will remain outside of U.S. territorial seas and not operate in a manner that disrupts the Rim of the Pacific exercise," Gorman said.
China's absence has been a major headline of this year's RIMPAC exercises.
At RIMPAC's opening ceremony, Navy Adm. John Aquilino said that China's actions in the South China Sea are "exactly contradictory" to the maritime exercises. This year, 25 nations are participating, bringing 47 surface ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.
Aquilino said the U.S. will cooperate with China where it can and compete and confront with the nation where it must.
"This entire exercise is about nations cooperating for peace, stability, security, and a free and open Indo-Pacific region," he said.