Tokyo: The US and Russian militaries accused each other of unsafe actions Friday after an American guided-missile cruiser and a Russian destroyer came within 165 feet (50 meters) of each other in the East China Sea.
The US 7th Fleet said the Russian destroyer put the safety of the ‘USS Chancellorsville’ and its crew at risk, forcing it to reverse all engines at full throttle to avoid a collision.
It said a helicopter that was operating at sea was preparing to land on the Chancellorsville, which was traveling on a steady course, when the Russian destroyer, traveling behind the US ship, speeded up and approached as close as 50-100 feet (15-30 metres).
Clay Doss, spokesman for the Japan-based 7th Fleet, said no one was injured and he was not aware of any damage to the ship.
“We consider Russia’s actions during this interaction as unsafe and unprofessional and not in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), ‘Rules of the Road’, and internationally recognised maritime customs,” the 7th Fleet said in a statement.
The Russian military accused the ‘Chancellorsville’ of making a dangerous manoeuvre by crossing the path of the Russian destroyer ‘Admiral Vinogradov’.
It said in a statement that the US cruiser ‘suddenly changed direction and crossed the path of Admiral Vinogradov just 50 metres (165 feet) away’, forcing the crew of the Russian ship to make a quick change in direction to avoid collision. The Russian military said its Navy sent a radio message in protest.
With US-Russian relations at post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, the Russian and US militaries have frequently exchanged accusations of what they describe as unsafe manoeuvres by the other side’s warplanes and navy ships.