The Slatest

U.S. and Russian Ships Come Within Feet of One Another in Near Collision

A Russian destroyer and the American guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville nearly collided in the Philippine Sea on Friday, prompting both sides to blame the other for the two vessels coming between 50 and 100 feet of one another in open water. The U.S. Navy characterized the Russian ship’s approach as “unsafe and unprofessional,” saying it prompted the American ship to take emergency action. Russia’s Pacific Fleet, however, said basically the opposite, that it was the U.S. cruiser that was at fault for crossing sharply in front of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov. The Russians say it was they who had to perform emergency maneuvering to avoid the U.S. ship.

This sounds like a very familiar Russian line of argument at this point, and Navy Cmdr. Clayton Doss, a spokesperson, dismissed the Russian claims as “propaganda.” The U.S. Navy subsequently released a video of the near collision that shows the Russian vessel appearing to methodically approach the U.S. ship, inching closer and closer until the two ships were abreast and you can see Russian sailors sitting on deck.

This is the latest in a series of near-misses between Russian and American craft and the second close call this week. “On Tuesday, the Navy’s 6th Fleet said a Russian Su-35 fighter plane flew ‘directly in front’ of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon over the eastern Mediterranean,” the Washington Post reports. “There were no injuries or harm to the planes, but the Navy called the Russian interception an ‘irresponsible’ action that ‘put our pilots and crew at risk.’ ”