Rory Kelleher, the Lithuania Tribune/
Thursday, April 14, 2016/ The commander of the US warship buzzed by two Russian attack jets in the Baltic Sea has said that the US Navy will not cede space to Russian forces in the Baltic. He was speaking in Klaipėda where the USS Donald Cook has docked today.
USS Donald Cook
“The objection of the United States Is not about fear but about safe and professional behaviour between international militaries in international airspace and international waters. The US navy will continue to operate forward with allies and in doing so we will not cede space,” Commander Charles Hampton said in a press conference on the deck of the USS Donald Cook in Klaipėda port.
“As you have seen in the media, the flybys were very low, very fast – and were inconsistent with the normal operations of international militaries in international waters and in international airspace,” the destroyer’s commander said.
“This behaviour is inconsistent with normal behaviour between two peacetime navies,” he said.
Asked about the buzzing by Russian jets which military analysts have described as a ‘strafing run’, he said: “They were very close to the ship. This ship is a multi-mission ship, a destroyer, this is right in line with the scenarios we prepare and the crew train for – this ship is designed to detect and track contacts such as this from several hundred miles away.
“We tracked the aircraft from 100 nautical miles away, and again I think its worth repeating – the objection from the US government is not about fear but about safe and professional behaviour.”
He said the US destroyer was designed to combat this kind of threat – “the crew is highly trained and this is a normal procedure we are trained for”.
He then reiterated that the crew was very pleased to be in Lithuania and thanked the Lithuanian people for their warm welcome.