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Video: Russian, US destroyers tussle in Sea of Japan

Russian US destroyers face off in Sea of Japan
Video screengrab of the October 15 interaction between Admiral Tributs and USS Chafee in the Sea of Japan

The Russian defense ministry says one of its destroyers forced out a US destroyer out of Russian territorial waters in the Sea of Japan on October 15.

Along with the shared video footage, the Russian defense ministry said the Project 1155 destroyer Admiral Tributs prevented the US Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Chafee from violating its state borders.

The event occurred at a time when the Russian and Chinese PLA navies are conducting the “Naval Interaction-2021” naval drill in waters near Peter the Great Bay.

This is not the first standoff in the region as US destroyer have conducted freedom of navigation operations there in the past. In November 2020, destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) challenged Russia’s maritime claims in the Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan. That operation was defined by Russia as an incursion into its territorial waters.

Describing the event on October 15, the Russian defense ministry said destroyer Admiral Tributs had warned its US counterpart about military drills taking place in the area but the US destroyer “failed to change its course.” USS Chafee raised flags indicating that it was prevented from changing course due to an imminent launch of a helicopter from its flight deck.

“Acting within the framework of the international rules of navigation, destroyer Admiral Tributs set out to drive the intruder out of the Russian territorial waters,” the defense ministry continued, adding that the two ships came within less than 60 meters of each before USS Chafee eventually changed course.


The US navy has also released a statement on the event, saying the information provided by the Russian defense ministry about the interaction was false.

While USS Chafee (DDG 90) was conducting routine operations in international water in the Sea of Japan on Oct. 15, 2021, a Russian Udaloy-class destroyer came within approximately 65 yards of USS Chafee (DDG 90) while the ship was preparing for flight operations.

“The interaction was safe and professional,” the US Pacific Fleet said.

Although Russia issued a Notice to Airman and Mariners (NOTAM/NOTMAR) in this area for later in the day, the NOTAM/NOTMAR was not in effect at the time of the interaction, the US Navy said, adding that USS Chafee conducted operations in accordance with international law and custom.