TOKYO, Japan — The U.S. Navy has denied claims that a Russian destroyer chased off the Bath-built USS John S McCain from territorial waters on Tuesday.
The Russian defense ministry said the warship Admiral Vinogradov used an international communications channel to warn the McCain (DDG 56) about the possibility of "ramming" to get the U.S. ship out of territorial waters in the Sea of Japan, the BBC reported. The USS McCain was reportedly just more than a mile into Russia's border in Peter the Great Gulf.
But the U.S. Navy claimed its destroyer, built at Bath Iron Works and commissioned in July 1994, "asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay" during a Freedom of Navigation Operation... [which] upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging Russia's excessive maritime claims."
The U.S. Navy said Russia has long-claimed an area of the bay that is "inconsistent with the rules of international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention." It said the McCain "demonstrated that these waters are not Russia's territorial sea and that the U.S. does not acquiesce in Russia's claim that Peter the Great is a ''historic bay' under international law. "The Russian Federation's statement about this mission is false," the Navy said, in part.
"USS John S. McCain was not 'expelled' from any nation's territory...The United States will never bow in intimidation or be coerced into accepting illegitimate maritime claims, such as those made by the Russian Federation.
"The incident occurred as relations between the two countries remain "strained," the BBC reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his victory, nor have the two countries finalized the last nuclear arms pact, which will expire in February.
Tuesday marks the second time the USS John S. McCain has made international headlines.
In August 2017, the destroyer collided with a merchant ship near Singapore, killing 10 U.S. sailors.