A Russian destroyer nearly collided with an American guided-missile cruiser in the Philippine Sea, the U.S. Navy said on Friday, calling the incident “unsafe and unprofessional.” The Russian Pacific Fleet, meanwhile, blamed the U.S. for the close encounter.
The U.S. Navy released an aerial photo and dramatic video of the incident.
U.S. Seventh Fleet spokesman Commander Clayton Doss said a Russian destroyer came within 50 to 100 feet of the USS Chancellorsville, “putting the safety of her crew and ship at risk.” Doss said the U.S. ship was “on a steady course and speed when the Russian ship DD572 maneuvered from behind and to the right of” the American warship, forcing it to reverse all engines at full throttle to avoid a collision.
At the Pentagon on Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called the Russian vessel’s actions “unsafe” but said “it will not deter us from conducting our operations.”
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However, Russia blamed the U.S. for the incident and sent a radio message in protest, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.
“The U.S. cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed its course and crossed the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer’s course some 50 meters away from the ship. In order to prevent a collision, the Admiral Vinogradov’s crew was forced to conduct an emergency maneuver,” the Russian Pacific Fleet statement said.
The “USS Chancellorsville was recovering its helicopter on a steady course and speed when the Russian ship maneuvered from behind and to the right of Chancellorsville, accelerated, and closed to an unsafe distance of approximately 50-100 feet,” US 7th Fleet said in a statement.
“This unsafe action forced USS Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision.”
In the videos taken from the American ship, the two ships come so close that Russian sailors can be seen appearing to sunbathe on the stern of their vessel.
Photos show just how close the Russian ship came to the US vessel.
Here is another surveillance photo shows the Russian naval destroyer Udaloy making an unsafe maneuver against the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville in the Philippine Sea
The incident comes amid increased military finger pointing between Washington and Moscow. On Tuesday, a U.S. aircraft flying over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted three times by a Russian fighter jet during a 175-minute period, according to the 6th Fleet. On consecutive days last month, U.S. warplanes intercepted Russian bombers and fighter jets off the Alaskan coast.
This latest incident comes just days after the US Navy accused Russia of intercepting a US aircraft and amid tensions with Moscow on a wide range of geopolitical issues.