The Russian destroyer Udaloy came within 100 feet of the USS Chancellorville in the Philippine Sea earlier today, forcing the guided-missile cruiser to execute all engines back full to avoid collision, ABC News reports.
Video of the confrontation was released by the Navy, showing how close the two ships came.
A statement from the Seventh Fleet said the Udaloy “maneuvered from behind and to the right of the Chancellorsville, accelerated, and closed to an unsafe distance of approximately 50-100 feet”. According to the Seventh Fleet statement, the incident took place as the US vessel was “maintaining a steady course and speed” while recovering its helicopter. The statement points out that the Russian ship violated internationally recognized maritime customs and put the safety of the Chancellorville and her crew at risk with its “unsafe and unprofessional” actions.
ABC News reports that the Russia’s Pacific Fleet claims the American vessel changed course and forced the Udaloy to avoid collision. The Chancellorville was flying specific flags signaling its intent to recover a helicopter. The “back full” maneuver cause the helicopter to be waved off as the Udaloy steered past. In aerial video of the incident taken by a reconnaissance aircraft, Russian sailors appear to be sunbathing in bathing suits on the deck.
Acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan told reporters, “The behavior is unsafe and unprofessional. We’ll have military to military conversations with the Russians. And of course we’ll démarche them. But you know it’s — to me, safety at the end of the day is most important. It will not deter us from conducting our operations.”