First on CNN: Russian warship 'aggressively approached' US destroyer in Arabian Sea

A Russian warship "aggressively approached" a US Navy destroyer while it was operating in the North Arabian Sea, ignoring warnings from the US vessel and increasing the risk of a collision, the US Navy said. CNN's Barbara Starr reports.

Posted: Jan 14, 2020 8:10 AM
Updated: Jan 14, 2020 8:10 AM

A Russian warship "aggressively approached" a US Navy destroyer while it was operating in the North Arabian Sea Thursday, ignoring warnings from the US vessel and increasing the risk of a collision, the US Navy said Friday.

Video of the incident, which was obtained by CNN, shows the Russian warship rapidly approaching the USS Farragut, coming as close as 180 feet to the US ship before changing course, according to two defense officials.

The incident is the latest example of a close encounter between US and Russian military forces that American officials have described as unsafe or provocative.

It comes roughly seven months after another incident in the Pacific when US and Russian warships came so close the US ship had to perform an emergency maneuver to avoid a collision.

In the video taken from the American ship last year, Russian sailors can be seen appearing to sunbathe on the stern of their vessel.

"On Thursday, Jan. 9, while conducting routine operations in the North Arabian Sea, USS Farragut was aggressively approached by a Russian Navy ship," the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, which oversees naval operations in the Middle East, said in a statement.

"Farragut sounded five short blasts, the international maritime signal for danger of a collision, and requested the Russian ship alter course in accordance with international rules of the road. The Russian ship initially refused but ultimately altered course," the statement said, adding "While the Russian ship took action, the initial delay in complying with international rules while it was making an aggressive approach increased the risk of collision."

The Russian vessel ultimately turned away after bridge-to-bridge radio communication was established with the US destroyer.

A US Navy official says that the Farragut is part of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier group and the Farragut is tasked with intercepting potential enemy ships to prevent them from approaching the aircraft carrier.

The Russian Defense Ministry responded Friday by accusing the USS Farragut of conducting dangerous maneuvers.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the US Navy's claim "doesn't correspond with reality," and accused the crew of the USS Farragut of acting "unprofessionally."

"It was the US Navy destroyer, being on the left of the Russian warship that was moving forward, grossly violated international rules for preventing collisions of ships at sea on January 9, 2020, having made a maneuver to cross [the Russian ship's] course," the statement said.

"The crew of the Russian warship acted professionally, taking a maneuver that prevented a collision with the intruder vessel," the Russian Defense Ministry added.

Russia responded similarly after the encounter in June, claiming it was the US ship that instigated the incident, according to comments carried by the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency.

"When moving (on) parallel courses of a detachment of ships of the Pacific Fleet and a carrier group of the US Navy, the cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed its direction and crossed within 50 meters of the Admiral Vinogradov," forcing the Russian destroyer to take emergency evasive action, the RIA-Novosti report said.

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