The US is sending another vessel to conduct a sea-floor geological survey within China’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone, less than a month after another US naval intelligence vessel was harassed by Chinese ships off the coast of Hainan island, the South China Morning Post reported. Dr Sam Bateman, a senior fellow of the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, was quoted in the report saying that while the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea does provide sovereign immunity for naval vessels, permission is required from China to conduct civilian marine research in its economic zone. “It does seem potentially provocative,” he said. The ship is a research vessel from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. A spokeswoman from the observatory said that the ship will be mapping the seabed for research on submarine earthquakes.