Home » Foreign Forces » China » RIMPAC 2016: Russian Destroyer Shadowed USS America Near Hawaii


RIMPAC 2016: Russian Destroyer Shadowed USS America Near Hawaii

The Russian Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DD-572) seen on July 17, 2016 off USS America. USNI News Photo

The Russian Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DD-572) seen on July 17, 2016 off USS America. USNI News Photo

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the following story indicated the Russian Navy has never been invited to the Rim of the Pacific exercise series when in fact the Russian Navy was invited to RIMPAC 2012. The post has been amended to reflect the change.

ABOARD USS AMERICA, NEAR HAWAII — A Russian destroyer shadowed the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) on July 16 and 17 during the Rim of the Pacific 2016 exercise, generally staying about one or two nautical miles away but at times coming as close as about 1,000 yards, USNI News observed.

The Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DD-572) approached America around 5 p.m. local time on July 16 and shadowed the warship all night and well into the next day.

The destroyer appeared at one point to peel away and sail toward USS San Diego (LPD-22) an amphibious transport dock sailing in the same amphibious readiness group (ARG) but then turned back to America.

At the time, America was sailing in international waters, San Diego was closer to U.S. territorial waters.

USS America (LHA 6) underway in the waters near the Hawaiian Islands as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016 on July 15, 2016. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA 6) underway in the waters near the Hawaiian Islands as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016 on July 15, 2016. US Navy Photo

Though the Russian ship at times had its bow pointed directly at America and was closing in, America commanding Capt. Michael Baze said Russian CO was experienced and acting professionally and was “definitely doing a really good job maneuvering the ship” at such close proximity.

“The fact is that this Udaloy is here, he’s in international waters — like we are — and so he’s enjoying the coast of Hawaii — like we are – but we’re all acting like professional mariners and it’s safe,” he told USNI News on America’s bridge.
“It’s interesting training for our crew because any time we do formations like… it’s navigation training for us.”

The Russian Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DD-572) seen on July 17, 2016 off USS America. USNI News Photo

The Russian Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DD-572) seen on July 17, 2016 off USS America. USNI News Photo

Even as the Russians observed the U.S. ship, America’s sailors used binoculars to take in the weapons, crew, awards painted on the side of the hull and the material condition of the Russian destroyer.

Admiral Vinogradov had sailed towards other amphibious ships in the ARG earlier during the exercise but only followed them for a few hours before breaking off. The destroyer’s shadowing of America was the most extended action thus far between Vinogradov and other ships in the multinational exercise to which Russia has been invited to in 2012.

USNI News understands that the Russian ship would be free to operate in international waters as long as it stayed at least 500 yards away from America. Getting close would bring warnings and eventually the U.S. ship could use its weapons to protect itself.

The Russian Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DD-572) seen on July 17, 2016 off USS America. USNI News Photo

The Russian Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DD-572) seen on July 17, 2016 off USS America. USNI News Photo

America’s CO Baze stressed that the Russian CO and the ship’s crew operated safely and professionally – despite the close proximity. America continued with its role in exercise, despite the visitor.

The 44,850-ton America is the first in a new class of amphibious warship and commissioned in 2014.

Earlier this month, USNI News reported the Russian Navy sent an uninvited signals intelligence ship to monitor the international exercise.

  • John Locke

    News Flash! There’s fish in the sea!

    • Brent Leatherman

      When I first saw this, I thought you’d written “There’s fish in the seal” which would still be an accurate statement, although a little weirder.

  • Brent Leatherman

    The Udaloy is 30 years old, it’s a miracle she can still sail at all.

    • Horn

      This one’s only about 20 years old. Still within the lifespan of the hull.

      • John Locke

        Adm. V was launched 4 June 1987

        • Horn

          Yeah, it’s early and my math slipped today. My mistake.

  • Dave_TX

    Was there an Russian oceangoing tug shadowing the Udaloy?

    • Andre

      You beat me to it!!

      • Dave_TX

        The sentiment is what counts. Do the Russians hire international towing contractors to retrieve their broken down oceangoing tugs?

  • Hugh

    I wonder if any Russian subs are shadowing? And if Rimpac vessels know they are there but are not letting on? Signatures anyone?

    • Dave Lacey

      Without a doubt. Shadow boxing. Practice for both sides.
      Dave in Az.

    • NavySubNuke

      Depends on if they had enough tug boat/life saving support ships available to have both the destroyer and a submarine on patrol at the same time. Doubtful considering the current state of the Russian pacific fleet.

      • Good analysis. I was wondering if you know of any good sources for information on the current status of the various Russian fleets. It seems after the Cold War, most of the good sources dried up…

  • madskills

    We should have asked them over for coffee and donuts. We had the Chinese in Rimpac……

    • incredulous1

      I don’t know about that but if they stick around any longer, they’re gonna have to start paying rent.

  • John B. Morgen

    The Russians are back to their old tricks—“stern gating.”

  • hp pc

    Club Femme Nu, in downtown Honolulu, has the task of providing rest and respite for our visiting foreign navies not participating in RIMPAC 2016. Their services are awesome.

  • Vlad Pufagtinenko

    Were the Russian sailors sending love notes to the American sailors via glass bottle? Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    • Yea and we mooned a Russian Frigate in the Med during the 70’s. Also we, I mean USS Vreeland FF1068, dropped off a ships plague on the boarding ladder of a Russian frigate. We and her were in close contact during the 73 Arab/Israel war. We were tasked with screening the carrier and she attempted many times, without success, to break our screen. Topside at morning quarters on a beautiful Med day. B division about faced an dropped their pants to her. They just waved and took some pictures. I bet there are some glossy photos somewhere in the Russiaan Navy archives. You can Goggle the plaque incident for the facts. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret. PS It was a different Navy – not even don’t ask and don’t tell -but remember on the old diesel submarines 88 sailors went out and 44 couples come back. I will not write about my M division painting on a white sheet “F–K You Commies” – that never happened.