Russia, U.S. ships get within 50 m of each other in East China Sea incident
Russia and the United States blamed each other for what each said was a near collision between their warships in the East China Sea on Friday, with both countries accusing one another of dangerous and unprofessional behaviour.
Russia's Pacific Fleet said the USS Chancellorsville, a guided-missile cruiser, had come within just 50 metres of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, which had been forced to take emergency action to avoid a collision, Russian news agencies reported.
They cited a Russian Pacific Fleet statement as saying the incident took place early Friday morning in the eastern part of the East China Sea at a time when a group of Russian warships was on a parallel course with a U.S. naval strike group.
"The U.S. guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed course and cut across the path of the destroyer Admiral Vinogradov coming within 50 metres of the ship," the statement said.
"A protest over the international radio frequency was made to the commanders of the American ship who were warned about the unacceptable nature of such actions."
BREAKING: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USNavy?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USNavy</a> has released video of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USSChancellorsville?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USSChancellorsville</a> being forced to maneuver to avoid collision, after <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Russian?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Russian</a> destroyer Udaloy I made an unsafe and unprofessional approach in the Phillippine Sea, June 7th. (2/2) <a href="https://t.co/bM9ZHuYSUM">pic.twitter.com/bM9ZHuYSUM</a>—@USNavy
That version of events was rejected by the U.S. navy, which said the behaviour of the Russian ship had been "unsafe and unprofessional."
"While operating in the Philippine Sea, a Russian Destroyer … made an unsafe manoeuvre against USS Chancellorsville," said Cmdr. Clayton Doss, U.S. Seventh Fleet spokesperson.
"This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to manoeuvre to avoid collision."
He described a Russian assertion that the U.S. ship had acted dangerously as "propaganda." The Russian destroyer came within 15 to 30 metres of the Chancellorsville, he said, putting the safety of her crew and the ship at risk.
The incident occurred days after Washington and Moscow sparred over an allegedly unsafe spy plane intercept by a Russian fighter jet near Syria.