The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur was performing a “freedom of navigation” operation on Sunday, crusing near Chinese language-claimed reefs within the Spratly Islands, when it was approached by a Chinese language destroyer, the Lanzhou.
The 2 ships might have been seconds away from a collision, stated Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain with 12 years at sea who seemed on the photographs on the request of CNN.
The pictures present the Lanzhou approaching the Decatur from behind and to the left of the US ship.
On this scenario, beneath worldwide naval legislation, the US destroyer would have proper of method and be required to keep up path and velocity, Schuster stated. The onus could be on the Chinese language ship to maintain protected distance from and maneuver previous the US ship.
However the Chinese language ship turned in direction of the best because it got here near the Decatur, attempting to chop throughout the US ship’s bow and forcing the US captain to carry out a “radical maneuver,” primarily throwing the 500-foot-long, 8,500-ton warship into reverse, he stated.
“It is like slamming on the brakes and turning to the best to keep away from a crash on the street,” stated Schuster, now a Hawaii Pacific College professor.
“The Chinese language ship actually violated the foundations of the street,” Schuster stated.
A Chinese language Protection Ministry spokesman stated Tuesday that its warship was merely defending Chinese language sovereignty within the Spratlys, the place Beijing has constructed up fortifications on man-made islands that had been as soon as small reefs.
“The Chinese language army will resolutely carry out its protection duties and proceed to take all essential measures to safeguard our sovereignty and the regional peace and stability,” spokesman Wu Qian stated.
CNN’s Jamie Crawford, Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne contributed to this report.