US, Russia Trade Blame After Warships Nearly Collide

June 9th, 2019 - by Jason Ditz / AntiWar & Sputnik News

US, Russia Trade Blame After Warships Nearly Collide in East China Sea

Jason Ditz / AntiWar

(June 7, 2019) — When US and Russian warships run afoul of one another in international waters, it is very common for one side or the other to blame the other ship for behaving unprofessionally. On Friday, the US and Russia are both blaming one another for such an incident.

The incident took place in the East China Sea, at around 11:45 am. The USS Chancellorsville, a US guided-missile cruiser and the Admiral Vinogradov, an anti-submarine destroyer, were sailing alongside one another. Suddenly, the US cruiser changed direction and cut across the course of the Russian destroyer, forcing the Russian ship to make an emergency maneuver to avoid a collision.

Exactly who is to blame at that point seems to be a matter of opinion. The two ships got within 50 meters of one another in the course of all this. Russian officials accused the US Navy of “hooliganism” for cutting them off as it did, while the US Navy claimed Russia’s ship made an “unsafe maneuver” when it apparently cut to try to avoid a collision.

The two ships were certainly worryingly close to one another, per videos released by the US Navy, and accusing Russia of doing something unsafe is in keeping with US policy, so it makes sense that’s what the narrative coming out of the Pentagon is.

Yet it certainly does seem that the US warship earned at least some of the blame for what almost happened. It’s not clear why the two ships were so close in the first place, but even given the destroyer’s superior maneuverability, the US ship plainly shouldn’t have changed course to cut across their existing path.

The USS Chancellorsville is part of the US 7th Fleet, which has had more than its share of difficulties at sea in recent years, with US cruisers running aground or smacking into civilian ships, sometimes with deadly results. It was certainly fortunate that today’s incident did not end that way, as it could have grave consequences for US-Russia relations.

Russia Accuses US Destroyer of Creating Dangerous Situation For Its Ship in East China Sea

Sputnik News

MOSCOW (June 7, 2019) — Several parts of the South China Sea are contested by six regional states, while in fact, China controls the vast majority of the territory. The US is actively trying to contest Beijing’s dominance in the region by sending military ships there.

The US Seventh Fleet, which is headquartered in Japan, refuted on Friday the accusations made by the Russian Pacific Fleet regarding a dangerous manoeuvre carried out by a US Navy cruiser near a Russian destroyer in the East China Sea, saying that it was the Russian vessel that nearly caused a collision between the ships.

“While USS Chancellorsville was recovering its helicopter on a steady course and speed when the Russian ship DD572 manoeuvred from behind and to the right of Chancellorsville accelerated and closed to an unsafe distance of approximately 50-100 feet. This unsafe action forced USS Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to manoeuvre to avoid collision”, the Seventh Fleet said in a statement.

At the same time, the US Navy said that the incident had happened not in the East China Sea but in the nearby Philippine Sea.

“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 recognized maritime customs”, the statement added.

According to a statement issued by the Russian Pacific Fleet earlier in the day, the USS Chancellorsville has crossed the course of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov.

“Today, at 6:35 am Moscow time (3:35 GMT) while the Russian sea detachment of the Pacific Fleet moved along with the US carrier attack group, the USS Chancellorsville suddenly changed its course and crossed the path of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov just 50 metres away from the ship,” a statement issued by the press-service said.

The Russian destroyer’s crew had to perform urgent manoeuvers to evade a possible collision. After the incident, the Russian military lodged a protest against such actions by the US.

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