US Navy Destroyer, Chinese Destroyer Nearly Collide in South China Sea
The Arleigh-Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyer USS Decatur had to make an emergency maneuver to avoid a collision with a Chinese Destroyer that came within 45 yards of its bow. The incident occurred Sunday at around 8:30 a.m. local time near Gaven Reef in the South China Sea.
The Navy Times reported,
In a written statement emailed to Navy Times, Pacific Fleet officials say that a Luyang-class destroyer closed on the Decatur around 8:30 a.m. local time Sunday in “an unsafe and unprofessional” manner near Gaven Reef, making a series of “increasingly aggressive maneuvers” that were accompanied by warnings for the Decatur to leave the area.
The Chinese vessel came within 45 yards of the Decatur’s bow before the American warship veered off to prevent a collision, officials said.
“U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including in the South China Sea. As we have for decades, our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” added Cmdr. Nate Christensen, Deputy Spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The Chinese, as we have previously reported, have militarized the Spratly Islands significantly. For them it has little to do with “commerce,” it’s about power and how to keep it. Which is why the United States continues to conduct FONOP operations in the region. [FONOP- Freedom of Navigation Operation.]
China says the Spratly chain is theirs, but the islands are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines. The tensions have remained high since they began building their airstips, creating bigger land masses, and in short attepting to control an important waterway.
Secretary of Defense had planned to visit China again for security talks, but suddenly changed his plans just after the incident with the Chinese Destroyer. According to AP, amid speculation, the SecDef said in his usual calm and collected way,
“There’s tension points in the relationship, but based on discussions coming out of New York last week and other things that we have coming up, we do not see it getting worse. We’ll sort this out.”
If anyone can “sort it out,” it’s James Mattis.