The U.S. is accusing Russia of getting close to one of its warship in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The incident has left two U.S. defense officials accusing Russia of having no regard for the “rules of the road” when it comes to international waters.
The incident took place on June 17 just as the American aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman was launching strikes against ISIS. While the said operation was going on, American guided missile destroyer USS Gravely and the Russian Navy frigate Neustrashimy ended up maneuvering in very close proximity to each other. Before a collision could happen, however, one ship ended up pulling away ahead of the other.
At one point, the frigate was said to have raised the day shape, “ball-diamond-ball” on her mast, indicating that she was restricted in her ability to maneuver around the time it had taken position just two nautical miles from the USS Gravely’s starboard quarter.
Afterwards, the Neustrashimyy repeatedly asked the U.S. ship to maintain a safe distance over VHF radio as it sailed closer to the Gravely. When the USS Gravely changed course and speed, the Neustrashimyy made adjustments to theirs as well.
As one official put it, “The maneuvering demonstrates that Neustrashimyy was not in fact restricted in her ability to maneuver, and was thus intentionally displaying a false international signal.”
In response to the near contact, a U.S. defense official told Fox News, “These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between [Russia and the U.S.], and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.”
Moreover, the Russian ship is accused of conducting “unsafe and unprofessional maritime operations.” According to a report from Reuters, Russia is accusing the U.S. of conducting unsafe maneuvers that day, claiming its ship was the one that was sailing too close.
Recently, the USS Gravely has arrived in Split, Croatia for a scheduled port visit to help enhance U.S./Croatia relations. It departed Norfolk, Virginia back in November 16, 2015 as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. Today, it continues to provide collective security for the U.S. and its NATO Allies under Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Following the incident, the crew is happy to spending some time in Croatia. Commander Justin Hodges, Gravely’s executive officer, said, “The crew is looking forward to some well-earned liberty while building relationships with the local community.”