A United States Navy destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by Russian aircraft April 11 and 12.
USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship.
On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an allied military helicopter when two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes at approximately 3 p.m. local. One of the passes, which occurred while the allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of Donald Cook, was deemed unsafe by the ship’s commanding officer. As a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s departed the area.
On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship’s commanding officer. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total. The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian. USS Donald Cook’s commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional.
“April 11-12, USS Donald Cook was operating in a professional manner in international waters conducting operations and exercises with our allies in the Baltic Sea,” said Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. “In my judgement these maneuvers in close proximity to Donald Cook are unprofessional and unsafe.”
U.S. officials are using existing diplomatic channels to address the interactions while the incidents are also being reviewed through U.S. Navy channels.