U.S., Russian warships narrowly avoid collision

Eagle1

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U.S., Russian warships narrowly avoid collision
By Allen Cone
Updated June 07, 2019

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The USS Chancellorsville, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 50 to 100 feet of a Russian destroyer, the Admiral Vinogradov, in a near collision Friday in the Philippine Sea, the U.S. 7th Fleet said.

Russia, however, claims the Chancellorsville hindered the passage of the Vinogradov in the East China Sea.

The Russian anti-submarine ship made an "unsafe maneuver" against the Chancellorsville at approximately 11:35 a.m. local time, the U.S. Navy said in a news release.

The 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," the Navy said. The Chancellorsville was forced to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision.

"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, 'Rules of the Road,' and internationally recognized maritime customs," the U.S. Navy said.

The United States and Russia couldn't even agree on where the incident happened.

Within the Philippines Sea and the East China Sea are the Senakaku Islands, which are also known as the Diaoyu islands in China, to the south of Japan and east of Taiwan.

"The US 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 press service said.

International maritime law requires ships to maintain a safe distance, normally interpreted as 1,000 yards, when passing another. Also, navies are not to interfere with another ship conducting flight operations.

"The Russians normally harass our ships when they are operating in waters the Russian consider to be within their sphere of Influence, Carl Schuster, a retired US Navy captain and former director of operations at the U.S. Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center, told CNN. Those areas are the Black Sea, Barents Sea and the waters off Validvostok.

The near-collision this morning is not the first in recent memory for U.S. and Russian ships, or aircraft.

Twice in June 2016, a Russian warship in the eastern Mediterranean approached a U.S. Navy ship in what American military officials said were unsafe manners.

The Russian frigate Neustrashimyy on June 17, 2016, came within 150 yards of the USS San Jacinto, according to U.S. military officials.

the USS Gravely was in the Mediterranean on June 28, 2016, to provide protection for the aircraft carrier Harry S Truman when it approached by the Russian Neustrashimyy-class frigate, according to U.S. officials.

And earlier this week, the United States said a P-8A Poseidon aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-35 three times over 175 minutes. The Russian Defense Ministry denied the U.S. accusations of the incident Tuesday.

The Chancellorsville, which is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, is among the Ticonderoga-class of cruisers that perform primarily in a Battle Force role, "capable of supporting carrier battle groups, amphibious forces or operating independently and as flagships of surface action groups," according to the Navy. They include 30 officers and 300 enlisted personnel.

The Chancellorsville -- named for a battle during the Civil War -- was first deployed in 1991 to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Storm.


 

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U.S. and Russia trade blame over near collision in East Asian waters
07 June 2019
Andrew Osborn, Tim Kelly


MOSCOW/TOKYO (Reuters) - Russia and the United States blamed each other for a near collision between their warships in East Asian waters on Friday with both countries accusing one another of dangerous and unprofessional behavior.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Washington would lodge a formal diplomatic protest to Russia, while a senior Russian parliamentarian said such episodes could easily escalate tensions, which he said were already balanced “on a razor’s edge”.

Russia’s Pacific Fleet said that the USS Chancellorsville, a guided-missile cruiser, had come within just 50 meters (165 feet) of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov which was 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 in the early hours of 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 meters 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,” it said.

The U.S. Navy rejected that version of events, saying the behavior of the Russian ship had been “unsafe and unprofessional”.

“While operating in the Philippine Sea, a Russian Destroyer ... made an unsafe maneuver against USS Chancellorsville,” U.S. Seventh Fleet spokesman
Commander Clayton Doss said.

“This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision.”

He described a Russian assertion that the U.S. ship had acted dangerously as “propaganda”. The Russian destroyer came within 50 to 100 feet of the Chancellorsville, he said, putting the safety of its crew and the ship at risk.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Shanahan said Washington would formally protest.
“We’ll have military-to-military conversations with the Russians, and of course we’ll demarche them, but to me safety at the end of the day is the most important (part),” he told reporters outside the Pentagon.
“It will not deter us from conducting our operations.”

The incident comes days after Washington and Moscow sparred over an allegedly unsafe spy plane intercept by a Russian fighter jet near Syria.
Alexei Pushkov, a senior Russian parliamentarian, said the near naval miss and other incidents like it were dangerous.
“We’re balancing on a razor’s edge,” he wrote on social media.

Additional reporting by Maria Kiselyova in Moscow and by Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Frances Kerry
 

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