China's Defense Ministry says a navy seaplane has crashed into waters near the eastern port city of Qingdao.

A notice posted on the ministry's website said the plane went down in Jiaozhou Bay on Thursday morning while conducting a training mission. It said a search and rescue mission was launched by the navy, but gave no word on casualties.

Reports of crashes and other military mishaps had been relatively rare in the past but the traditionally secretive People's Liberation Army has been making greater efforts at transparency as it seeks to transition into a modern military.

The North Sea Fleet operates four Shuihong 5 seaplanes dating from the 1980s and used primarily for low-altitude maritime patrol and surveillance missions. Each carries five crew members.