US, Russia blame each other as ships nearly collide in Asia

Photo: AP

The U.S. and Russia accused each other of unsafe actions on Friday after an American guided-missile cruiser and a Russian destroyer came within 165 feet (50 meters) of each other in the Philippine Sea.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters that the U.S. will file a formal diplomatic complaint about the incident and will have military to military conversations with the Russians.

He added that the encounter will not deter the U.S. from conducting naval operations.

The U.S. 7th Fleet said the Russian destroyer put the safety of the USS Chancellorsville and its crew at risk, forcing it to reverse all engines at full throttle to avoid a collision.

No one was injured, and the ships never came into contact, said Navy Cdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Japan-based 7th Fleet.
An American helicopter was preparing to land on the Chancellorsville, which was traveling on a steady course, when the Russian destroyer, traveling behind the U.S. ship, started moving faster and approached as close as 50-100 feet (15-30 meters), the 7th Fleet said in a 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 (COLREGS), ‘Rules of the Road,’ and internationally recognized maritime customs,” the statement said.

In this latest incident, in open ocean northeast of the Philippines, the Russian military accused the Chancellorsville of making a dangerous maneuver by crossing the path of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov.

The U.S. said the incident happened in the Philippine Sea, while the Russians said it was in the East China Sea, which is further west and closer to China.

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