Pentagon: ‘Aggressive’ Russian naval ship nearly caused collision

Photo by the US 5th Fleet shows a Russian Navy ship approaching an American warship in the North Arabian Sea. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon accused the Russian navy on Friday of aggressive actions in the Arabian Sea after one of its ships very nearly collided with a US Navy destroyer.

The Russian ship ignored collision warning blasts from the USS Farragut and came extremely close before turning away, narrowly averting a crash on Thursday, said the US Navy 5th Fleet, which released video footage of the incident.

“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 fleet said in a statement.

The video shows the Russian vessel rapidly approaching the stern of the 155m US warship.

It closed dangerously within 55m according to the Pentagon, ignoring five short blasts sounded by the Farragut, the international maritime signal for collision danger.

“The Russian ship initially refused but ultimately altered course and the two ships opened distance from one another,” the US statement said.

The Russian Defence Ministry denied the allegation, saying the Farragut had cut across the path of their ship.

“It was the US destroyer that blatantly violated international rules for preventing collisions at sea on 9 Jan 2020 by making a manoeuvre to cross the Russian ship’s course, while being positioned to the left of the forward-moving Russian military vessel,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Farragut was in the region as part of the strike group attached to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, deployed late last year to the Middle East as tensions with Iran rose.

“The US Navy continues to remain vigilant and is trained to act in a professional manner,” they said.

“We continue to encourage vessels from all nations to operate in accordance with internationally recognized maritime laws, standards and norms.”