Russian sailors were scrambled to head off the American missile destroyer USS Chafee as it set course to violate their country’s maritime borders in waters closed off for military exercises, Moscow’s Ministry of Defense has said.
On Friday, defense chiefs stated that the Chafee, an Arleigh-Burke class warship operated by the US Pacific Fleet, attempted to make its way into territory in the Russian Far East, before its course was diverted by one of the country’s anti-submarine ships, the “Admiral Tributs.”
According to the reports, the vessel had been operating in the Sea of Japan for several days before trying to cross the border near the Peter the Great Gulf.
“After receiving the warning, the destroyer Chafee, instead of changing course to leave the closed area, raised its colored flags to indicate preparation for a helicopter to take off from the deck, which means it is impossible to change course and speed, and took action to violate the state border of the Russian Federation in the Peter the Great Bay,” the Russian Defense Ministry commented.
Chafee, having seen the determination of the Russian ship’s crew not to allow the state border to be violated, changed direction and at 17:50 turned back, less than 60 meters away from the Admiral Tributs.
The actions of the crew of USS Chafee were a gross violation of international rules for prevention of collision at sea and Russian-US intergovernmental agreement on prevention of incidents on the high seas and in the airspace above it,” the ministry blasted.
The US destroyer was also warned of the dangers of entering into the territory, as the Russia-China “Maritime Interaction-2021” exercises are underway in the Sea of Japan. In a message released by the Russian Air Defense Forces’ press service for the Pacific Fleet on Thursday, it was revealed that “during the exercises, the crews of the ships of the two countries will work out joint tactical maneuvering, anti-mine support, conduct artillery fire, and searching for and blocking a simulated enemy submarine.”
The incident has echoes of a similar row that took place last November, after the USS John McCain crossed into the waters of the Peter the Great Bay in what American commanders described as a “Freedom of Navigation Operation.” The McCain was warned by the Udaloy-class destroyer ‘Admiral Vinogradov’, whose crew threatened to ram it by force if it refused to turn around.
The US insists that Peter the Great Bay was improperly claimed by the USSR in 1984. Since then, Moscow has stuck by the Soviet demarcation of the waters, which was determined by drawing a straight line between its adjacent coasts.