A Russian frigate the Kremlin claims was harassed by a U.S. guided missile destroyer was attempting to disrupt an aircraft carrier tasked with fighting ISIS, a U.S. official told USNI News on Tuesday afternoon.
During the June 17 incident, the 4,000-ton Russian frigate Yaroslav Mudry (FF-727) indicated to U.S. ships operating in the Eastern Mediterranean it was restricted in its ability to maneuver and took a position two nautical miles off the starboard quarter of USS Gravely (DDG-107).
As the ships traveled, Mudry’s crew repeatedly warned Gravely over the radio not to get close but kept accelerating and turning into the American destroyer over the 90 minutes it was tailing the destroyer and carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). At one point the frigate got as close as about 300 yards, the official said.
Throughout the incident, Gravely maneuvered to stay between Mudry and Truman, the official said.
The crew of Gravely and the carrier determined the Russian frigate, “was intentionally trying to interfere with Harry S. Truman operations,” the official said.
“We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian ship maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.”
Russian officials released a video early on Tuesday claiming Gravely was at fault and in violation of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), according to a Tuesday report in the state-controlled RT newswire.
“ ‘The U.S. sailors, in particular, neglected Rule 13, which stipulates that an overtaking vessel must keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken,’ the [Russian] Defense Ministry said. It added that the USS Gravely had also violated Rule 15, which says that a vessel that has another vessel on the starboard side must yield and avoid crossing ahead of her,” read the report.
The Russian Ministry of Defense also said the Pentagon, “should take note of such incidents rather than accuse the Russian Air Force and Navy of unprofessional conduct. ‘U.S. sailors allow themselves to neglect key foundations of navigation safety without thinking of the consequences that dangerous maneuvering in a heavily trafficked maritime area might involve’,” read the RT report.
In April, the Pentagon complained destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) was aggressively buzzed by a pair of Russian Sukhoi Su-24 in the Baltic Sea.
The Truman Carrier Strike Group is currently conducting strikes against ISIS from the Eastern Mediterranean as part of the anti-ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve.