The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) almost had a collision with a Chinese warship on December 5, 2013. The two ships came within the proximity of being several hundred yards away from each other. A source, who wanted to remain unnamed, told ABC News, “Whether it is a tactical at-sea encounter or strategic dialogue, sustained and reliable communication mitigates risk of mishaps, which is in the interest of both the U.S. and China.”
According to a statement from the U.S. Pacific Fleet, “While lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens (CG 63) and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision. 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.”
Reports claim that the interaction did not escalate to shots being fired; however, the PLA ship did attempt to force the USS Cowpens to stop while in international waters. An unidentified U.S. military official spoke with Stars and Stripes.
“I don’t know the intent of the guy driving that PLA ship. I just know that he was moving to impede and harass the Cowpens. I mean, from my perspective, having him stop in the middle of the South China Sea is kind of dumb. [The Chinese saying] ‘Go away, get out of here’ [would make more sense]. But ‘stop’ doesn’t really do anything because all that does is just maintain the status quo,” the source said.
Shortly after the event with the PLS ship, sailors aboard the USS Cowpens visited elementary students while in Guam. The crew spoke with children from Marcial Sablan Elementary School on December 12th, and then with children from Inarajan Elementary School on December 13th. Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Bo Rodriguez explained how the sailors have the opportunity to positively influence youth through these interactions. “If I can change one child’s perspective of anything I’ll be happy with that. I believe it’s important so that they know what we’re really about and we’re not really out to harm anybody or anything like that,” he said.