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Recap / JAGS 02 E 14 Cowboys And Cossacks

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What is supposed to be a friendly war games exercise between the United States and Russian navies soon becomes a matter of life and death for all involved.

15 nautical miles off the coast of Sevastopol, Ukraine, the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Cayuga (USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) in real life) is patrolling the area where a war games exercise is to take place when it detects on radar the arrival of the Russian guided missile destroyer RNS Vasiliev. As Captain MacNamara, skipper of the Cayuga, requests that the Vasiliev follow them into the war games area, the Vasiliev's skipper, Captain Grinkov, asks that the Cayuga yield to them. MacNamara recognizes Grinkov, and the end result is the two ships colliding with each other when neither yields to the other one.


Concerned about Grinkov and MacNamara and them being old rivals from the Cold War, the U.S. and Russian naval commands send representatives to ensure that both skippers participate in the war games without causing any trouble. The U.S. sends in JAG Corps members Harm, Mac, and Bud, while the Russian Federation sends Commander Petovich and Lieutenant Madovik, the plan being that Mac will stay on the Cayuga while Harm and Bud are transferred to the Vasiliev while Petovich and Madovik are sent to the Cayuga as well.

Once on the Cayuga, Petovich and Madovik are impressed to see Mac being a Marine, while Harm and Bud soon meet the Vasiliev's Executive Officer (XO), Commander Yuri Kretchiak, whom Harm recognizes as a former member for the Soviet Union Olympic hockey team. As Yuri shows Harm and Bud around, a muffled explosion sends the Vasiliev into high alert as a fire has broken out in the missile room. Worse, some of the firefighting equipment is defective, raising Harm and Bud's suspicion regarding the ship and with Captain Grinkov.


The next couple of days seem to go along fine as the exchange officers become better acquainted with the other ship and its crew, but once on the bridge of the Vasiliev, Harm and Bud watch as Grinkov orders the Vasiliev to head outside the war games' boundaries, which would disqualify it from participation and look like an act of war by trespassing in waters of a non-participating country. However, Grinkov refuses to allow Harm to notify the Cayuga of this.

That night, Harm discovers Yuri seeing off some of the Vasiliev's crewmen he sets adrift to be collected by the Cayuga when they pick up the distress signal from the life raft the adrift soldiers are in.

On both ships, it is soon discovered that Grinkov is becoming senile, as he's learned that after the war games are over, the Vasiliev will be scrapped and Grinkov will be retired from active duty. Grinkov would rather see the Vasiliev go down fighting than be scrapped and him becoming a regular civilian again after his military career for Mother Russia was over. After Harm and Bud attempt to warn the Cayuga, Yuri apparently betrays them and has them arrested and taken to the brig, while Mac is able to beat up Commander Petovich enough in a friendly boxing match to learn of Grinkov's condition and attempt to tell MacNamara about it. MacNamara doesn't listen, and does a simulated kill on the Vasiliev, only to then learn that Grinkov has locked onto the Cayuga and launched two live missiles towards her. Though the Cayuga is able to stop the missiles from hitting the ship, a furious MacNamara orders retaliation and has a Harpoon missile fired back at the Vasiliev, dealing the Vasiliev a mortal wound. Grinkov orders the torpedoes loaded and ready to fire on his command, but Yuri refuses to follow through on his captain's orders and goes to rescue Harm and Bud from the flooding brig. They manage to escape on their own, and when they learn that Grinkov refuses to abandon ship, Harm convinces Yuri to relieve Grinkov of command and give the order to abandon ship, notifying the Cayuga of the impending evacuation of the crippled Russian warship and needing the Cayuga to help rescue the Vasiliev's crew.


When a crewman reports that the Vasiliev's missiles have been armed, Harm goes down to the missile room to confront Grinkov, who reveals that ever since he was born on a ferry boat, a sailor's life flowed through his blood, and he would rather go down with his ship to a watery grave than return to Mother Russia a retired sailor. Harm is able to convince him to allow his crew time to abandon ship so they can continue Grinkov's legacy in serving in the Russian Navy as they've served him well under his command. Grateful to Harm for allowing him the honor of going down with his ship, Grinkov agrees to allow his crew time to evacuate, along with asking Harm to give his regards to MacNamara, saying that while they were not the best of friends, they were the best of enemies. With a final goodbye of "Do svidanya", Harm leaves Grinkov to his chosen fate. Yuri later thanks Harm for giving Grinkov the honor of a sailor's death before they evacuate the Vasiliev as the last crewmen to get off before being rescued by the Cayuga.

Once on the Cayuga, the crews of both ships watch as the Vasiliev explodes spectacularly, and then give Grinkov and his ship a final salute of mutual respect as both the Vasiliev and her captain sink to their watery grave together. True honor and respect among sailors of the navies of the USA and Russia.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Red Alert: In the opening teaser, the Cayuga goes to General Quarters when they realize they are about to collide with the Vasiliev. Later, when MacNamara learns from his radar officer that two live missiles are heading for his ship, the alarm is sounded again as the Cayuga attempts to shoot down the missiles using both interceptor missiles and the Phalanx CIWS before MacNamara orders retaliation.
    • The same is on the Vasiliev when the fire breaks out and they learn that the Cayuga has returned fired with a Harpoon missile.


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