In late September 1989, the heavy 130mm guns of a 6,000-ton Soviet Sovremenny-class guided missile destroyer plying the Mediterranean opened fire as a U.S. P-3C Orion surveillance plane of VP-24 flew overhead, barely missing the aircraft and prompting a Soviet apology. The near-miss dramatized the need for U.S. and Soviet military negotiators to hammer out details of an accord regulating military forces operating near each other. The incident occurred Sept. 22, as the warship conducted gunnery exercises south of the Greek island of Crete, an American P-3 Orion aircraft on routine surveillance approached the warship and was flying along its starboard side when one of the ship's four large guns fired a shell that passed in front of the plane and exploded. Turbulence from the blast jolted the Orion. The U.S. Navy immediately protested the action, using diplomatic channels opened by the 1972 Incidents at Sea Agreement. The Incidents at Sea agreement did not bar such close passes. In spite of a Soviet apology, Moscow remained concerned that the actions of both the Soviet ship and the U.S. warplane could have brought the superpowers close to a potentially explosive incident. This full-color print represents the 1989 "Incident at Sea."
P-3 SKEET by DON FEIGHT (P-3 Orion: VP-24: Soviet Destroyer: U.S.