WASHINGTON, DC - US and Russian warships nearly collided in the far East this morning, coming dangerously close to disaster. But according to military leaders, no one was hurt.
These are massive warships that cannot stop on a dime. So regardless of how this happened, one thing is clear, lives could have been lost today and both ships could have been severely damaged.
As to why this happened, CBN News spoke to a military expert who offered a preliminary explanation.
US Navy video captured the incident Friday in the Pacific. It shows just how close the US and Russian warships were at the time. Officials say just 50 to 100 meters apart.
Acting US Secretary of Defense Shanahan said, "The news of this morning is beyond disappointing."
The US says the Russian vessel came from behind it at a high rate of speed and angled toward it, forcing crew members on the USS Chancellorsville to throw engines in reverse to avoid a collision.
Russian military officials claim it was the American vessel that suddenly changed course causing the two to almost collide.
US officials say, at the time, a helicopter was attempting to land on the American warship.
"So that is not the moment that you're going to be doing aggressive maneuvering to make life harder for a Russian vessel," said Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Bowman, a former Army pilot and national security advisor in the US Senate, said, "I think there's good evidence to suggest that the American explanation is the accurate one."
If an aggressive maneuver by the Russian warship is to blame, the question would be: why?
"Russia has engaged in the long term in a habit of highly unprofessional unsafe intercepts whether on sea or in the air," Bowman said. "Putin believes that it's in their interest to engage in these things because it makes the Russian military look strong, it makes them look like they're equals of the United States militarily and diplomatically."
All this comes as the presidents of Russia and China met just this week. Both countries have an ongoing animus against the US, partly due to recent US sanctions and tariffs.
They both oppose US international leadership engagement and strength. When those two countries are working together that's a concern for the US.
"Unsafe unprofessional acts will not deter us from conducting operations," Shanahan said.
Whether on purpose or by accident, Bowman is confident the near collision was caused by the Russian military. Next will come a full review of what happened which will likely include what's known as démarche. That's essentially an official government statement saying, "Russia, here are the rules of the road you violated, don't let it happen again."