In the late 1960s, several incidents broke out between the U.S. Navy and the Soviet Navy. These include aircraft from the two nations passing by each other, colliding ships and aircraft that make threatening movements against those on the other side. In March 1968, the United States proposed discussions on preventing such incidents. The Soviet Union accepted the invitation in November 1970 and the discussions were held in two cycles – October 1, 1971 in Moscow and May 17, 1972 in Washington, D.C. The agreement was signed in 1972 by Navy Minister John Warner and Soviet Admiral Sergey Gorchkov at the Moscow Summit. The parties exchange appropriate information on collision incidents, incidents resulting in damage or other incidents at sea between vessels and aircraft of the contracting parties. The U.S. Navy provides this information on the Soviet naval attaché in Washington, and the Soviet Navy provides this information on the U.S. Navy attaché in Moscow. Like other confidence-building measures, the maritime incident agreement has no direct impact on the size, weapons or power structure of the parties.
Rather, it aims to improve mutual knowledge and understanding of military activities; Reduce the possibility of conflict by accident, miscalculation or miscommunication; and increase stability in times of calm and crisis. In 1983, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman called the agreement “a good example of how the navy process works in the navy” and attributed soviet-American relations to the area that it would be “better than worse.” In 1985, he found that the frequency of incidents was “much lower than it was in the 1960s and early 1970s.” The agreements are listed below with links to English translations, if available. The agreement also provides for: (1) generally, three to five days in advance, measures envisaged that “threaten navigation or aircraft in flight”; (2) information on incidents intended to be channelled through naval attachés belonging to each capital; and (3) annual meetings to review the implementation of the agreement. Twelve NATO allies had signed bilateral military agreements with the Soviet Union on preventing incidents at sea outside territorial waters. These allies are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Portugal, Greece and Turkey. All bilateral agreements between the Soviet Union and NATO members were signed in the official languages of both parties. For all documents published in the Sea Journal, there are unofficial English translations – links are included according to the respective agreements. In the context of continued violence in Ukraine and broader hostile rhetoric, dangerous incidents between Russia and the West, highlighted by the ELN in November 2014, continued. This update shows 27 new incidents that highlight the validity of the recommendations in our report. The protocol to this agreement was born from the first meeting of the advisory committee established by the agreement. Each party recognized that additional arrangements for non-military vessels could improve their effectiveness.