The American guided-missile destroyer was conducting routine operations at the time of the approach, according to a statement from the Bahrain-based command.
“Farragut sounded five short blasts, the international maritime signal for danger of a collision, and requested the Russian ship alter course in accordance with international rules of the road,” according to the command.
The Russian vessel “initially refused” but ultimately altered its course and the two ships opened distance from each other, 5th Fleet said.
“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 command said.
Fifth fleet posted two videos to social media Friday showing the encounter.
One minute-long clip shows Farragut soundings its five blasts and the Russian ship continuing to close in.
The other footage shows the Russian ship closing in on the rear of Farragut from the starboard side and then crossing behind the U.S. vessel to port.
It remains unclear whether that second clip occurred before or after the footage showing Farragut sounding five short blasts.
“The U.S. Navy continues to remain vigilant and is trained to act in a professional manner,” 5th Fleet said. “We continue to encourage vessels from all nations to operate in accordance with internationally recognized maritime laws, standards and norms.”
Navy Times could not read a hull number on the Russian ship, but Kremlin news service Sputnik International identified it in a link to a larger story as SSV-175 Viktor Leonov, a Vishnya-class intelligence gathering vessel
But the footage recorded by the Farragut shows a vessel that more resembles one of the two Yury Ivanov (Project 18280)-class spy ships.
Sputnik International reported that the Russian Defence Ministry dismissed as “untrue” U.S. 5th Fleet’s claim that the Russian spy ship “aggressively approached” the destroyer.
In the Russian version of events, Farragut crossed the Russian vessel’s set court, acting in an “unprofessional manner” in a “deliberate violation of maritime safety rules,” which forced the Russian crew to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.
“It was the US destroyer that blatantly violated international rules for preventing collisions at sea on 9 January 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’s statement reads, according to Sputnik International.
Sputnik International argued that global rules for preventing collisions at sea mandate that when two ships are on a collision course, the one that has the other to its right must give way and let it pass.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.