WASHINGTON -- A Soviet guided missile frigate collided with a U.S. Navy destroyer in the northern Arabian Sea, causing minor damage to the U.S. ship but no casualties, the Navy said.
The incident occurred near the Straits of Hormuz at 3:30 p.m. Thursday local time -- Wednesday in the United States, Navy officials said.
The Navy said the Soviet ship attempted to approach too close to the carrier USS Ranger. When the destroyer USS Fife tried to head off the Soviet ship, the two ships grazed hulls.
The Soviet tactic marked the latest incident of harassment at sea, which was prevalent during the U.S. search for the wreckage of the downed South Korean airliner in the Sea of Japan last month, officials said.
The Navy protested the collision between the Krivak I Class frigate and the Fife to the Soviet Navy through their 'Incident at Sea' agreement, a Navy official said.
'It's a clear violation of that agreement,' he said, requesting anonymity. 'It's another example of harassment tactics. These sort of incidents could become extremely costly to men and ships.'
The Soviet frigate hit the right side of the Fife, scraping its paint and leaving two 15-foot gouges, the official said. No one was injured.
The incident occurred after the Soviet ship 'made several runs at the Ranger' and the Fife was in the process of maneuvering between the Russian ship and the carrier during flight operations aboard the Ranger, the official said.
'We didn't want the frigate interfering with our flight operations,' he said.
'The frigate closed to within 100 yards on a parallel course (with the Fife),' the official said. 'It closed and kissed the hull of the U.S. frigate.'
The Soviet ship ran up a flag to signal it had steering difficulties, he said, but the U.S. vessel observed that the Russians 'were in full control of their helm at all times' because the Soviet ship was able to pull away from the scene of the collision immediately.
Earlier, the official said, the Soviet frigate came with 100 yards of the U.S. guided missile destroyer Benjamin Stoddert.