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Russian warships sail through Alaskan fishing fleet without warning – US forces alerted

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On Wednesday, the fishing fleet vessels raised the alarm to Washington after bumping into the warships off the coast of Alaska. The ships were fishing for pollock in the Bering Sea when they overheard Russian voices on their radios.

According to Steve Elliott, who was onboard the Vesteraalen trawler, the voices switched from Russian to English before demanded nearby commercial ships to move out of their way.

Mr Elliott told Alaska Public Media (APM): “Three warships and two support vessels of theirs were coming and would not turn.

“And they came marching right through the fleet.”

According to reports, other vessels were also ordered to leave the area by Russian military aircraft.

Stephanie Madsen, executive director of the trade group At-Sea Processors Association, said: “We were caught by surprise.

“It caused a disruption in our fishing operations for at least the 24 to 36 hour period where we were trying to get the facts about what was happening.

“And then it’s unclear what impacts could continue through the time that the Russians have given us notice the exercise will be underway.”

The US confirmed the Russian military were taking part in drills known to American officials and claimed to be tracking nearby activity.

APM report the drills are likely to continue into September.

Mike Fitzgerald, a crew member on the Blue North cod fishing ship, claimed his vessel was disturbed at least six times by a Russian aircraft and was ordered out of the area.

He told APM: “I won’t say we were fearful because we’re Bering Sea fisherman.

“But this goes beyond anything when you really know what happened.

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“We had Russian military aircraft threatening us, ‘Danger area. Missile area. Proceed out of here’.

“That’s unheard of, and it’s really wrong that we haven’t gotten more protection out here.”

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed they had intercepted six Russian warplanes.

Reports say the plans flew in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone for around five hours and flew within 50 nautical miles off the Alaskan coast.

Mr Fitzgerald also claimed he saw a Russian submarine surface close to the Alaskan coast.

The US Northern Command said it was “closely monitoring the Russian submarine” and added: “We closely track vessels of interest, including forge in military naval vessels, in our area of responsibility.”

They also claimed the Russian maritime activity is “taking place in International waters well outside the US territorial sea”.

On Friday, the US State Department issued a statement condemning the Russian activity and said they would be investigation the “unprofessional interactions” of the Russian military forces.

US officials have warned Russia’s military activist off the US coasts, especially submarines, poses a national security threat to the US.

Back in July, the British Royal Navy rushed to intercept a Russian submarine which surfaced near Britain.

The Russian submarine was reportedly conducting a surfaced transit from the Eastern Mediterranean alongside its ocean-going tug Sergey Balk and passed through waters close to the UK.

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