Russian jet

The US Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) has encountered multiple close interactions by Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft, while conducting deck landing drills with an allied military helicopter in the Baltic Sea.

A US defence official was reported as saying that a pair of Russian Su-24 combat aircraft attempted 20 overflights within 1,000 yards of the ship, at an altitude of around 100ft.

The Russian aircraft is said to have conducted ‘aggressive’ manoeuvres as close as 30ft near the destroyer, twice passing below the ship’s navigation bridge, according to US officials.

“In my judgement these manoeuvres in close proximity to Donald Cook are unprofessional and unsafe.”

USS Donald Cook was undertaking flight operations with a Polish helicopter after departing from the Polish port of Gdynia, near Gdansk.

The aircraft failed to respond even after the ship’s commander issued repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian.

The operations on-board the destroyer were suspended until the Russian aircraft departed the area. The Russian jets were said to be unarmed.

US Naval Forces Europe-Africa commander admiral Mark Ferguson said: "11-12 April, USS Donald Cook was operating in a professional manner in international waters conducting operations and exercises with our allies in the Baltic Sea.

"In my judgement these manoeuvres in close proximity to Donald Cook are unprofessional and unsafe."

An investigation into the incident is being undertaken by the US officials using diplomatic channels to address the interactions.

In a statement on the US Navy website, United States European Command (EuCom) officials said: "We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death."

Image: Russian jet flies at close proximity of US destroyer Donald Cook. Photo: courtesy of U.S. Navy photo/Released.