On June 17, a U.S. naval warship and a Russian warship had a close encounter, causing Russia to protest the actions of the American warship. The Russian ship was seemingly trying to get close to and interfere with the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman and the U.S. destroyer had to maneuver to get in between the two ships.
The two ships involved in the incident in the Mediterranean Sea are the U.S. naval destroyer Gravely and the Russian frigate Yaroslav Mudry.
In the video the United States destroyer can be seen maneuvering in front of the Russian frigate from its port which was originally on a parallel course. The destroyer then pulls in front of the frigate leaving behind choppy waters from its wake.
“US destroyer Gravely made a close encounter with a Russian warship in the eastern Mediterranean on June 17 at a distance of 60-70 meters [197-229 feet] on the port side and crossed the Yaroslav Mudry’s course along the bow at a dangerous distance of 180 meters [590 feet],” the Russian Defense Ministry said, reported by Sputnik.
A U.S. Defense official said the incident shown in the video has more to it than what it seems. The video which lasts roughly only a minute shows the destroyer pulling ahead of the frigate in close proximity, but according to the official, the incident lasted more than an hour and took place in entirely international waters, the Navy Times reported.
The official added that the Gravely was escorting the carrier Harry S. Truman while the Russian warship was observing and maneuvering at a close distance.
The destroyer maneuvered to place itself between the Yaroslav Mudry and the Truman, but the Russian closed to within 315 yards, the official said. The “interaction was assessed as unsafe,” the official added.
“Gravely was operating astern of Harry S. Truman, and assessed that 777 was intentionally trying to interfere with Harry S. Truman operations,” the official said. “The interaction was assessed as unprofessional because 777 displayed an international signal for being restricted in her ability maneuver, but then freely maneuvered in both course and speed as Gravely changed course and speed.”
The official added a detailed description, the Navy Times reported:
“777 had raised day shapes ‘ball-diamond-ball,’ which is the international signal a ship displays when restricted in her ability to maneuver, when she took position two nautical miles off Gravely’s starboard quarter. Then, 777 repeatedly asked Gravely over VHF radio to maintain a safe distance, while 777 continued to maneuver to get closer to Gravely.”
“As Gravely changed course and speed, 777 also changed course and speed. The maneuvering demonstrates that 777 was not in fact restricted in her ability to maneuver, and was thus intentionally displaying a false international signal.”
“Gravely assessed that 777 was intentionally trying to interfere with Harry S. Truman operations.”
“777’s closest point of approach (CPA) was approximately 315 yards to USS Gravely and five nautical miles to USS Harry S. Truman. The CPAs were closer than previous Russian Federation Navy interactions in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea recently.”
The official added that the incident could lead to something more serious and could heighten tensions between the two countries.
“We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian ship maneuvers,” said the defense official. “These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.”
This incident is the latest in a string of military encounters between Russia and the United States. The United States has recently increased their naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea.
The movement of the U.S. destroyer Porter into the Black Sea raised concerns from Russia on June 6th.