In yet another example of China’s recently increased “maritime harassment,” a Chinese naval vessel forced an American guided missile cruiser to make a “dangerous maneuver” while the American warship was operating legally in international waters, according to a new report from the Washington Free Beacon.
On December 5, the USS Cowpens refused an order to stop “while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea,” and what happened then could have had disastrous consequences.
According to the Free Beacon:
“On December 5th, while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision,” a Navy official said.
“This incident underscores the need to ensure the highest standards of professional seamanship, including communications between vessels, to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap.”
According to the officials, the run-in began after a Chinese navy vessel sent a hailing warning and ordered the Cowpens to stop. The cruiser continued on its course and refused the order because it was operating in international waters.
Then a Chinese tank landing ship sailed in front of the Cowpens and stopped, forcing the Cowpens to abruptly change course in what the officials said was a dangerous maneuver.
The encounter was the type of incident that senior Pentagon officials recently warned could take place as a result of heightened tensions in the region over China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea.