WASHINGTON — The U.S. and Russia are trading accusations this morning over whose naval ship endangered the other in a near-collision in the far Pacific Ocean.
In an email to Pentagon reporters Friday morning, the Navy said a Russian destroyer “made an unsafe maneuver” against USS Chancellorsville “closing to approximately 50-100 feet putting the safety of her crew and ship at risk.”
The Navy said the incident occurred in the Philippine Sea. The USS Chancellorsville is a guided missile cruiser.
“While the USS Chancellorsville was recovering a helicopter the Russian warship came from behind & accelerated & closed to an unsafe distance of 50-100 ft. This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full & to maneuver to avoid collision,” Cmdr. Clayton Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, said in the statement.
“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.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the Russian behavior was “unsafe and unprofessional.
“We’ll have military-to-military conversations with the Russians, and of course we’ll demarche them,” Shanahan told Pentagon reporters on Friday. “But, you know, it’s — you know, to me, safety at the end of the day is the most important. It will not deter us from conducting our operations.”
The Russians accused the Americans of dangerous behavior, despite videos and photographs showing it was their ship that headed toward the U.S. vessel.
According to news reports, the Russian Navy was cited as saying that the USS Chancellorsville had come within just 50 meters of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, which had been forced to take emergency action to avoid a collision.
The Russians said the incident occurred in the East China Sea, which is adjacent to the Philippines Sea.
A Russian fighter jet harassed a Navy reconnaissance airplane three times over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday, including one time that was “determined to be unsafe,” the Navy said.