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VIDEO: Navy ships appear to play ‘chicken’ in San Diego Bay; Navy investigating

Navy ships approach each other in San Diego Bay. (Screenshot/Twitter)
November 30, 2022

Two Navy ships recently seemed like they were about to collide in San Diego Bay before both sharply turned away in what almost looked like a game of “chicken” with warships, triggering a Navy investigation.

A video posted on Twitter showed the two-minute encounter Tuesday morning between the guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen and the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry.

Navy personnel on both ships can be heard saying they’re going to turn to port, or left, to avoid a collision. Within two minutes, both ships turn left out of each other’s way. Groups of sailors can be seen standing outside on each ship.

It isn’t clear why the ships came so close to each other. The Navy is now investigating the near miss, Navy Times reported.

A spokesman for the U.S. Third Fleet, Lt. Samuel Boyle, told Navy Times that while the ships were “in close vicinity,” they each successfully navigated out of the situation. He added that there were no injuries or damage.

Commenters on Twitter debated whether the ships followed or broke the maritime “rules of the road.”

According to U.S. Coast Guard rules that apply to all watercraft, vessels in a head-on situation are supposed to turn to starboard, or right, so that they pass with their port sides facing each other. But a starboard turn would have brought the Harpers Ferry further into the Momsen’s path.

A Coast Guard handbook for recreational boaters says starboard turns are “preferred” in a head-on situation.