A notorious US naval destroyer sparked a diplomatic incident on Tuesday morning after Russia claimed that it had launched an incursion into its territorial waters.
The USS John S McCain, a specialist combat ship designed to hunt submarines, was operating in the Sea of Japan (also called the East Sea), off the coast of the Russian Far Eastern capital, Vladivostok. Authorities say it was more than two kilometers inside Russias internationally recognized maritime border.
A statement from the Ministry of Defense in Moscow said that the vessel had violated Russian waters and was warned of the unacceptability of its actions by the Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, which had been tailing it. The communiqué added that sailors had told the American ship of the potential of resorting to ramming to force the trespasser out of the territory. The US navy has not yet issued a response. Also on rt.com Russias naval reach extends with new African base: Putin signs off on building Red Sea hub in strategically vital Sudan Read more Sea change: Building a naval base in Sudan is the first crucial step in restoring Russias maritime power Sea change: Building a naval base in Sudan is the first crucial step in restoring Russias maritime power
This is not the first time that the USS John McCain has been involved in high-risk incidents at sea. In 2017, ten American sailors died after the vessel collided with a Liberian-flagged tanker, resulting in flooding and putting the warship out of action until October 2019. An investigation into that incident warned of an overly complex touch-screen system used to control the ships throttle, and a lack of training of its crew.
Named after naval pilot and Republican senator John McCain, who died in 2018, the ship has repeatedly been singled out for criticism by President Donald Trump. McCain himself had been one of Trumps biggest critics, arguing that his 2016 election campaign had fired up the crazies. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that White House aides had asked for the ship to be moved out of sight of the president on a trip to Japan in 2019, to avoid angering him.
On Tuesday afternoon, however, the commander of the US 7th Fleet claimed that the vessel had not been expelled from any nations territory, and had been conducting a so-called Freedom of Navigation Operation. In a statement, the American Navy went on to claim that by conducting this operation, the United States demonstrated that these waters are not Russias territorial sea. They argued that the disagreement arises from whether Peter the Great Bay can be considered historic, which would make it subject to different rules under international law, and therefore affects Russias sea border.