Incidents at Sea

"American Confrontation and Cooperation with Russia and China, 1945-2016"

Hardcover $10.78
Book: Cover Type


Drawing on extensive State Department files, declassified Navy policy papers, interviews with both former top officials and individuals who were involved in incidents, David F. Winkler examines the evolution of the U.S.-Soviet naval relationship during the Cold War, focusing in particular on the 1972 Incidents at Sea Agreement (INCSEA). In this volume, an updated edition of his classic Cold War at Sea, Winkler brings the story up to the present, detailing occasional U.S.-Russia naval force interactions, including the April 2016 Russian aircraft “buzzings” of the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic. He also details China’s efforts to militarize the South China Sea, claim sovereignty over waters within their exclusive economic zone, and the U.S. Navy’s continuing efforts to counter these challenges to freedom of navigation.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

"The book is an interesting and engrossing account of both the Cold War at sea and the diplomatic endeavors carried out during this period to stabilize and neutralize areas of conflict. The book should appeal to both those interested in the U.S. Navy during the Cold War and diplomatic maneuvering during the same period." —The Journal of America's Military Past
"The high seas and contested littorals were the front line of US-Soviet interaction during the Cold War. Winkler's book provides an intimate look at the development and execution of a landmark agreement between adversaries that provided a key mechanism for ensuring that their interaction at sea remained professional and kept the Cold War from becoming hot." —Naval War College Review
"This very informative book provides a detailed account of the dangerous confrontations that occurred in the air and at sea between the US and the communist superpowers in the post-1945 period.... Making use of government documents, personal papers, and oral histories, this highly readable account sheds important light on an otherwise unfamiliar chapter in the East-West confrontation." —CHOICE
"This book provides us with a masterclass on using creative diplomacy and harnessing the experience of the military to reduce the international tensions and increase confidence between potential opponents. Winkler's book should be compulsory reading not only for maritime history and Cold War diplomacy enthusiasts, but also for all the researchers and practitioners who work currently on avoiding a new conflict at sea." —Lukasz Kulesa, Research Director, European Leadership Network (ELN)
"While many Cold War naval historians wrote about naval warfare or the evolution of maritime strategy during this period, Dr. Winkler presents a different kind of story on naval relations, a story about how the two biggest naval rivals competed, fully-prepared for war, but still managed to find a way to coexist at sea. Those valuable historical lessons may still be very important for the current Asia-Pacific situation."—Yuan Zhang, Research Fellow of Institute for International Studies of Wuhan University of China
"The circumstances that David Winkler describes in such well-researched detail may be unique to a particular strategic relationship in a particular era, but the principles he draws from that experience are as relevant as ever. This book should be required reading for anyone engaged in the crucial post-Cold War business of confidence building wherever potentially hostile forces meet at sea."—David N. Griffiths, Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie University
"What you will find in Dr. Winkler's work is an extremely readable narrative that covers all types of naval confrontations on the high seas from the end of World War II to the near present. This book will provide important context for those pursuing freedom of navigation and safety at sea."—John W. Warner, retired U.S. Senator, former Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and former Secretary of the Navy, from the Foreword
“In Incidents at Sea, Winkler updates his now 20-year-old doctoral dissertation in a fascinating enquiry that shows that navies can cooperate and coordinate their behavior not just despite broader political tensions but also because of them.” —Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs
Incidents at Sea meticulous recounting of the political and military developments and consequences of INCSEA offers tremendous utility to those studying in the fields of diplomacy or national security…. This book would serve as a useful resource for naval officers operating within this area of responsibility to understand the history of the conflicts with which they are currently dealing. Ultimately, this book is an excellent read for any individual with an interest in understanding the naval component of the intense tensions between the U.S. and other big world players, Russia and China.” —International Journal of Naval History
Incidents at Sea is one of those books that will never become outdated. Not only is it the authoritative work on this somewhat specialized topic, but it is also written by a professional historian with the literary flair of a novelist. For students of sea power, naval historians, those who enjoy a good read, and especially those working in the field of international maritime confidence-building, this book should become a well-thumbed addition to their bookshelves.” —Ocean Yearbook