After Russian and American warships nearly collided in the East China Sea on Friday, both countries were quick to accuse the other of “dangerous and unprofessional” behavior, according to a June 7 report by Reuters.
One detail that hasn't come up, but totally should, is why a bunch of Russian sailors were chilling on the deck of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov when the vessel came within 50 to 165 feet of the USS Chancellorsville, a Navy guided-missile cruiser. (The exact distance between the two vessels is unclear, as both the U.S. and Russian navies are citing different figures.)
The sun-bathing sailors were first spotted by CNN correspondent Barbara Starr on Twitter.
at time code 1:44 you will see Russian sailors appear to be sunbathing on the back deck of their ship…. https://t.co/yOI0vvnyBS
— Barbara Starr (@barbarastarrcnn) June 7, 2019
And others quickly joined in to speculate on why sailors were kicking back in lawn chairs and catching some rays, instead of, you know, manning their posts or swabbing the poop deck, or whatever the Russian naval equivalent is.
"Comrades, why not put on sunscreen and enjoy rays? When sun is out, guns are put into place, da?" pic.twitter.com/LrHoiC7cA2
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) June 7, 2019
According to Reuters, Russia's Pacific fleet claims that the Chancellorsville came within 165 feet of the Russian Udaloy-class destroyer, and that the Russian vessel was forced to take measures to avoid a collision.
“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,” reads a statement from Russia's Pacific fleet, provided to Reuters.
The Russian Navy's claim was rejected by the U.S. Navy which said the Russian destroyer made an unsafe maneuver against USS Chancellorsville,” U.S. Seventh Fleet spokesman Commander Clayton Doss told Reuters. “This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision.”
Doss told Reuters that the Russian military's claim that the U.S. was at fault for the near-collision amounted to “propaganda,” and that the two vessels came within 50 to 100 feet of one another, not the 165 feet claimed by the Russian Navy.
Regardless of who was at fault, or just how close disaster came, one thing is certain: Nothing will ruin a relaxing morning out in the sun like nearly crashing into another warship.