Russia’s Pacific Fleet said the USS Chancellorsville, a guided-missile cruiser, came within just 50 metres of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, which was forced to take emergency action to avoid a crash, Russian news agencies reported.
The incident took place in the early hours of Friday in the eastern part of the East China Sea when a group of Russian vessels was on a parallel course with a US naval attack group.
“The US guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed course and cut across the path of the destroyer Admiral Vinogradov coming within 50 metres of the ship,” Russia’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement.
“A protest over the international radio frequency was made to the commanders of the American ship who were warned about the unacceptable nature of such actions,” it said.
However, that version of events was rejected by the US Navy, which said the behaviour of the Russian ship had been “unsafe and unprofessional”.
“While operating in the Philippine Sea, a Russian destroyer … made an unsafe manoeuvre against USS Chancellorsville,” US Seventh Fleet spokesman Commander Clayton Doss said.
“This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to manoeuvre to avoid collision.”
He called the Russian assertion that the US ship acted dangerously as “propaganda”.
Russia and the US regularly accuse each other of carrying out dangerous aerial or naval manoeuvres.
Friday’s incident comes days after Washington and Moscow sparred over an allegedly unsafe spy plane intercept by a Russian fighter jet near Syria.
In June 2016, the two traded accusations after naval ships sailed closely past each other in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
A month later, the US accused Russia of “aggressive” and “erratic” moves by one of its warships in the same waters.