The Russian Navy said that the USS Chancellorsville, a guided-missile cruiser, unexplainedly changed direction and came within just 50 meters of the Admiral Vinogradov on Friday at 6:35 Moscow time. It added that a collision was only prevented after the Russian crew implemented emergency maneuvers and changed course.
A statement from Russia’s Pacific Fleet added that a complaint had been lodged with the command of the American cruiser.
We made our protest to the command of the American ship on an international wavelength and pointed out that such actions are unacceptable.
The US Navy denied responsibility for the near-collision. Instead, it blamed the Admiral Vinogradov for accelerating at Chancellorsville while it was waiting for its helicopter to land onboard.
This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision.
The incident follows a period of growing tensions in the waters around China, with Washington frequently sending its warships on so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ exercises to challenge China’s territorial claims. In recent months, American incursions in the South China Sea have seen US vessels come within 12 nautical miles (22km) of Chinese islets, the closest they may stray without violating international law.
Following another tense near-collision between Chinese and US warships last October, China’s defense ministry said it “resolutely opposes” any actions by foreign vessels that challenge its territory under the guise of freedom of navigation.
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