December 10, 2022

The Russian Black Sea Fleet may have lost another flagship

The Russian Black Sea Fleet may have lost another flagship

Ukrainian Navy months ago caught Russian naval frigate Admiral Makarov. It looks like the Ukrainians finally got a shot at the 409-foot-high, missile-equipped ship in its home port in Sevastopol, in Russian-occupied Crimea.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian government released sensational videos apparently depicting a successful night strike Makarov Or her sister ship Admiral Essen with at least one unmanned surface ship.

The speedboat-sized USV, likely carrying hundreds of pounds of explosives, dodged Russian helicopters and small boats and headed straight toward the frigate, coming within a few feet of the videotape.

There are still no photos or videos circulating on the Internet that can confirm whether the frigate sustained any damage. At best, her crew blew up the drone boat before the boat exploded they. in the worst case, Makarov or Essen It suffered the kind of waterline damage that could quickly sink a ship. To say nothing of any fires that may have been caused by the explosion.

The daring robotic raid is history repeating itself. Makarov It became the flagship of Russia’s depleted Black Sea Fleet in April after Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles and shore-based missile crews worked together to sink the former main ship, the 612-foot cruiser. Moskva.

even if Makarov Still standing – and this is an obvious possibility – Ukrainians can still regard the night strike as a victory. There are reports that other ships of the Black Sea Fleet were damaged in the raid. and avoid it future USV attacks, the Russians will either have to devote more resources to protecting Sevastopol, or withdraw more than thirty ships of the Black Sea Fleet from the Crimea.

The Ukrainian Navy achieved amazing success, considering that it no longer had any large ships. In the early hours of the initial Russian bombardment on February 23, the crew of Hetman ShidachniThe lead ship of the Ukrainian Navy and only a large surface fighter have sunk the frigate at its docks in Odessa, Ukraine’s strategic port on the western Black Sea.

During the first two months of Russia’s wider war on Ukraine, the Russians controlled the Black Sea. Sailing and flying with impunity, they captured Little Snake Island, 80 miles south of Odessa, and — using the island as well as some gas rigs they captured from Ukraine as bases for air defenses and surveillance equipment — they laid siege to Odessa, effectively cutting off vital grain exports. for Ukraine.

The Black Sea Fleet prepared to attempt an amphibious landing around Odessa. Capturing the port would complete Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and isolate the country from the sea, permanently stifling its economy.

Meanwhile, Russian forces captured or scattered the rest of the Ukrainian Navy’s ships, including one landing ship and a group of armored patrol boats. When the Ukrainians responded, they did so with ground-based missiles, drones, and USVs.

The tide began to turn on March 23, when a Ukrainian ballistic missile Tochka hit the landing ship of the Black Sea Fleet. Saratov While she was on the quayside in the occupied port of Berdyansk. Explosion sank Saratovdamaged at least one other landing ship and underlined the danger that Russian ships might face in a direct attack on Odessa.

Then, on April 13, an anti-ship battery of the Ukrainian Navy placed two Neptune missiles in the side of the Russian cruiser MoskvaAnd the In the end The ship is 612 feet.

In one fell swoop, the Ukrainians deprived the Black Sea Fleet of its main air defense ship with S-300 long-range surface-to-air missiles. Desperate to keep their remaining large warship—in particular, the two Admiral Grigorovich– Class frigates including MakarovFleet commanders pulled larger ships 80 miles from the Ukrainian coast.

This exposed the rest of the Black Sea Fleet – in particular, the supporting ships that could not effectively defend themselves – to attack with Ukrainian missiles and drones. UK MoD: ‘Russian resupply ships have minimal protection in the western Black Sea’ advertiser.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has bolstered its Neptune battery with US-made Harpoon missiles, doubling the danger to Russian ships in the western Black Sea. The missiles coordinated with drone operators flying Turkish-made TB-2 drones to track and sink several of the Black Sea Fleet. raptor Patrol boats and landing craft.

In early May, there were rumors of a Ukrainian missile landing Makarov. It turns out that this is not true. But Harpoon she did hit and drown support ship Vsevolod Bobrov While she made a supply tour to Snake Island on May 12.

Ukrainian missiles hit too At least one of the gas rigs the Russians were using for surveillance. Ukrainian drones, fighters and artillery bombarded Snake Island, making the treeless rocks uninhabitable.

The Russian garrison fled the island on May 31. A week later, the Ukrainian special forces Ukrainian flag raised. The liberation of Snake Island indicated to the Ukrainian merchant navy that the western Black Sea was safe for trade.

Odessa was still under siege – and will remain so until Turkey brokered an end to the port closure in late July – but ships can now take grain out of Ukraine through canals that connect small river ports near the Romanian border to the western Black Sea.

The river’s path may regain its former importance in the wake of last night’s Sevastopol raid. The Kremlin announced that it had terminated its agreement with Kyiv to allow large grain ships to sail from Odessa.

The Russians are not acting from a position of strength. Unable to make up for the losses of the Black Sea Fleet as long as Turkey controlled the Bosphorus strait that connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, Russian commanders focused on protecting what remained of the fleet. The ships hug the Crimean coast, remaining within the range of ground-based aircraft and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

But Ukrainian drone boats hit the Black Sea Fleet inside that protective canopy. Between ballistic missiles, anti-ship missiles, airborne and seaborne drones, the Ukrainian armed forces have plenty of ways to sink Russian ships.

The Black Sea Fleet is not safe in the Western Black Sea. It is not safe in Sevastopol. The only place may be Be safe is the only place where it is completely irrelevant to the wider war: in the ports of Russia itself, restricted to the pier and heavily guarded around the clock.