Russia Says US Cruiser Nearly Caused Collision in East China Sea

The U.S. Navy has rejected the Russian characterization of the incident.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Russia Says US Cruiser Nearly Caused Collision in East China Sea
Credit: U.S. Navy via Twitter

Russia’s Pacific Fleet accused the U.S. Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) of nearly causing a collision with the Admiral Vinogradov, an Udaloy-class destroyer, classified by the Russian Navy as a “large anti-submarine ship,” in the southeastern part of the East China Sea on June 7.

“The US cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed its course and crossed the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer’s course some 50 meters away from the ship,” the Russian Pacific Fleet said in a statement. “In order to prevent a collision, the Admiral Vinogradov’s crew was forced to conduct an emergency maneuver.”

The Russian Pacific Fleet voiced an official protest to the U.S. Navy.

In turn, the U.S. Navy characterized the encounter between the two warships in the East China Sea as “unsafe and unprofessional,” noting that the Russian destroyer came to within 15 to 30 meters of the USS Chancellorsville. (See video)

“At approximately 11:45 am on June 7, 2019 while operating in the Philippine Sea, a Russian destroyer (Udaloy I DD 572) made an unsafe maneuver against USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), closing to ~50-100 feet putting the safety of her crew and ship at risk,”according to a U.S. Seventh Fleet statement.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

“While Chancellorsville was recovering its helicopter on a steady course and speed when the Russian ship DD572 maneuvered from behind and to the right of Chancellorsville accelerated and closed to an unsafe distance of ~50-100 feet. This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision.”

Russia’s TASS news agency reported earlier today that, “[t]he incident occurred at 6.35 a.m. Moscow Time in the southeastern part of the East China Sea, when a task force of the Russian Pacific Fleet and a US carrier strike group were heading in parallel directions.”

The USS Chancellorsville is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and assigned to Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5, which consists of the USS Ronald Reagan, the only forward-deployed U.S. Nimitz-class supercarrier, and about a dozen other surface combatants.

A U.S. Navy CSG usually consists of about 12 surface ships, one or two nuclear-powered fast attack submarines and around 75 aircraft.

The Russian Pacific Fleet conducted an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise in the Sea of Japan earlier month, which involved the Admiral Vinogradov’s sister ship, the Admiral Panteleyey.

The Russian Navy has been conducting multiple ASW exercises in past weeks. The Pacific Fleet held exercises on April 30 and April 19 in the Arctic Ocean and in waters off the Russian territory of Khabarovsk in the country’s Far East, respectively.

The Admiral Vinogradov also participated in a six-day joint naval exercise, codenamed Joint Sea 2019, with China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in late April and early May. The exercise took place in the East China Sea and Yellow Sea.

According to the Russian MoD, the two navies carried out joint maneuvers, live-fire exercises, search and rescue operations, communication exercises, and joint anti-submarine warfare and anti-air warfare drills.