Wanting to get a closer look at Russian activities in the Sea of Azov, an extension of the Black Sea that penetrated Russian territory, Vice Admiral Newton McCully embarked in the American destroyer Smith Thompson (DD-212) at Sevastopol on the southern tip of the Crimean peninsula and headed eastward. As the ship entered the narrow Strait of Kerch that connected the two seas, a Russian gun battery opened up, and the first round came dangerously close. The Smith Thompson rang up 25 knots and hugged the western shore of the strait as the Russian batteries continued to fire. Fortunately for the Americans, the Russian gunfire was not sufficiently accurate, and the destroyer entered the smaller sea undamaged.
Completing his reconnaissance mission and with night falling, Vice Admiral McCully decided it was time to leave the Sea of Azov. Rigged for darken ship, the Smith Thompson slipped past the Russian shore batteries, undetected this time, emerging once again into the Black Sea for a return to Sevastopol.