The US European Command (EUCOM) has accused a Russian warship of using “aggressive, erratic maneuvers” against American Naval ship USS San Jacinto in the Mediterranean Sea on June 30th. This is the second incident in weeks that is reminiscent of Cold War acts, a United States military spokesperson said on Saturday.
In the report, according to Reuters, EUCOM military officials claimed a Russian frigate, Yaroslav Mudryy, came within 150-feet of the U.S. owned guided-missile cruiser and maneuvered in its wake.
“San Jacinto was never threatened by the erratic maneuvers, as San Jacinto maintained course and speed, but the closing distance by (the Yaroslav Mudryy) before the ship turned away from San Jacinto is considered a high risk maneuver, highly unprofessional, and contrary to international maritime regulations… Conducting aggressive, erratic maneuvers and moving unnecessarily close to another ship in open ocean is inconsistent with prudent seamanship. We are concerned every time an unprofessional ship maneuvers occurs. These actions can unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in dangerous miscalculations or accidents.”
At the time, the USS San Jacinto was enacting plans against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria along with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier.
Over the past few months, several incidents have brought into question whether a confrontation is on the horizon between the two superpowers. The spats arising at sea and in air between the U.S. and Russian military forces have resulted in both making accusations against the other. One such incident occurred two weeks ago, leaving U.S. military officials to ponder the intentions of Russia.
On June 17th, foul play at sea was also a topic of debate when both Russian and U.S. military forces disputed which party was at fault for crossing the lines.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed the Russian ship Neustrashimyy was cruising steadily and without prudence in the international waters of the eastern Mediterranean when the Gravely approached it 65-75 yards from the port side and crossed in front of it. The statement added that the incident “shows that it is U.S. sailors who allow themselves to forget the basic principles of safe seafaring and not to think about the eventual consequences of this dangerous maneuvering in regions with intense navigation”.
Contrary to Russia’s statement, U.S. Defense officials reported that the Russian frigate “repeatedly crossed the stern of USS Gravely at close proximity” and “repeatedly asked Gravely to maintain a safe distance, yet continued to maneuver in close proximity to Gravely”. According to an ABC News report, the Russian ship waved the international signal flags, suggesting it was not maneuvering; but one official thinks that may have been a way to draw the American destroyer in close to its position.
The report went on to say the Russian ship came within 315 yards of Gravely and five nautical miles of the USS Harry S. Truman while both were conducting routine operations to support the campaign against the Islamic State militant group.
In April, the U.S. military cited Russian SU-24 bombers for simulating attack passes near the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea. The event was described as one of the most “aggressive interactions in recent memory” by one U.S. official. The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, called the Russian pilots’ behaviors provocative and dangerous, adding “under the rules of engagement that could have been a shoot-down”.
U.S. Navy Captain Rick Hoffman attempted to explain the actions to CNN stating, “President (Vladimir) Putin is clearly playing domestic politics.”
Pentagon spokesperson and U.S. Lieutenant Colonel, Michelle Baldanza, states the Pentagon is working to follow up on the incidents involving the U.S. and Russian warships using the proper military channels.
[Photo by Mark Wilson | Getty Images]