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WATCH: Russian Warship ‘Aggressively’ Approaches American Destroyer In North Arabian Sea

By  James Barrett
An MH-60S Sea Hawk from the Eightballers of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) during a replenishment-at-sea, 2012. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The U.S. Navy’s Middle East-based fleet revealed Friday that a Russian warship “aggressively approached” the USS Farragut destroyer in the North Arabian Sea on Thursday, initially refusing to respond to the destroyer’s warning signals in an action that “increased the risk of collision.”

“On Thursday, Jan. 9, while conducting routine operations in the North Arabian Sea, USS Farragut was aggressively approached by a Russian Navy ship,” the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet stated in a series of tweets Friday that include video of the encounter.

“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,” the Fifth Fleet explained.

“The Russian ship initially refused but ultimately altered course,” the 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 U.S. Navy continues to remain vigilant and is trained to act in a professional manner,” the Fifth Fleet added.

Two defense officials told CNN the Russian warship “got as close as 180 feet from the US ship and that there was bridge to bridge communication between the two warships.”

CNN notes that the Farragut “is part of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier group and the Farragut is tasked with intercepting potential enemy ships to prevent them from approaching the aircraft carrier.”

A similar close encounter between U.S. and Russian ships took place in the Pacific in June 2019, with both sides blaming the other for the near disaster. A U.S. warship came as close as 50 feet from a Russian warship, both ships reportedly forced to engage in emergency maneuvers to avoid running into each other.

The tense moment comes amid increased tension in the Middle East after a standoff between the U.S. and Iran. On Tuesday, Iran launched ballistic missile strikes on two Iraqi bases at which U.S. and coalition personnel were stationed in retaliation for a Trump-ordered airstrike that took out Iran’s top military leader, who was responsible for hundreds of Americans’ deaths and helped orchestrate countless terror operations.

Following the strikes, which resulted in no American or Iraqi casualties and minimal damage to the bases, Iran quickly signaled that it hoped for de-escalation, reaching out to the U.S. “through at least three back channels” to make clear that the missile strikes would be the extent of their military retaliation if the U.S. did not take further action.

President Trump delivered a televised statement the next morning, announcing that “Iran appears to be standing down,” which he called “a good thing for all parties concerned, and a very good thing for the world.” While making clear that the U.S. would not tolerate Iran continuing its “destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East,” Trump announced new economic sanctions on Iran, indicating that the U.S. would not retaliate militarily for the strikes.

“For far too long, all the way back to 1979, to be exact, nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East. Those days are over,” Trump said. “Iran has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.”

Related: Iran Sent Messages Through ‘Three Back Channels’ To U.S. After Attack To Say They Were Done

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