It appears that a Ukrainian maritime drone, similar to those using in an attack on Sevastopol, has struck Novorossiysk. This would be strategically important, showing that more of the Russian Navy is under threat. Efforts may be underway to suppress this story in Russian media.
What might be missed in the report is that Novorossiysk, unlike Savastopol, is not in occupied Ukraine. It is in Russia. According to Wikipedia, “Novorossiysk is the biggest Russian seaport. In 2019 cargo turnover amounted to 142,5m tons. In 2021 cargo turnover amounted to 105,2m tons.”
It is too early to say that this is the start of a Ukrainian campaign against Russia’s oil and gas export industry, but it would be one way to apply additional leverage. If the Ukrainians are successful in their crowd funding drive to build 100 of these explosive Uncrewed Surface Vessels, they could make it very dangerous for Russia’s tankers and coastal energy infrastructure.
6 U.S. Navy type patrol vessels have recently been supplied to Ukraine. These are already active in the Black Sea where they face a much more powerful adversary in the Russian Navy. But the Ukrainian Navy is building a reputation as an effective asymmetric force.
The Drive reports, it appears Ukraine made a mass attack of unmanned air and surface craft on Russia’s primary naval base in the Black Sea, Sevastopol (Ukraine is not claiming responsibility). There seems to be confirmation from Russia that minor damage was done to a minesweeper, but other reports indicate a relatively new frigate, the Admiral Markarov, serving as flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, may also have been damaged. Video in the report shows a very close approach to a frigate of the same class, apparently by an unmanned surface craft before the video ends abruptly.
Russia is also claiming that the UK was involved in the planning of the attack.
While unlikely, how to defend against such attacks probably should be in the Coast Guard’s skill set. Force protection and harbor defense are potential missions.
Take a look at the detail picture of the harbor, above, top, near the center, second from the right. The thin wavy line is a boom or net accross the entrence to Sevastopol harbor.
Steel floats for anti-submarine nets, 1953
Anti-submarine nets were common during WWII, and booms go back to at least the American Revolution if not to antiquity. This may be in response to Ukraine’s apparent use of unmanned surface vessels. I have seen some barriers deployed around aircraft carriers moored at North Island in San Diego.
What does this have to do with the Coast Guard? Buoy tenders were commonly used as Net Tenders during WWII, opening and closing the anti-submarine nets.
Armed unmanned surface and subsurface vehicles are providing a new reason to deploy nets and barriers. We may see a return of these systems.
According to the report, the propulsion appears to have been from a Sea-Doo personal recreational watercraft.
The report includes a comparison with past examples of explosive motor boat and significantly, the diagram of the suspected Ukrainian craft is along side an outline of an adult male, providing scale, that suggests the craft is about 12 feet in length.
Hopefully the Coast Guard is paying attention, because similar craft might be employed by terrorist against the US.
The Drive/The War Zone discusses reports of a possible suicide drone surface vessel. This looks more sophisticated than the unmanned explosive motor boats that were used by Yemen’ Houthi faction, possibly using satelite communications to allow it to be operated over much greater distance from the control station.
Riverines attached to Riverine Squadron 2 in a SURC at Haditha Dam Forward Operating Base conduct a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, December 20, 2007. Members of RIVRON 2 patrol Haditha’s dam and surrounding waterways, denying their use by insurgents, which in turn provides security to local fisherman. Location: Haditha Dam FOB, Anbar Province Iraq. (United States Navy, MC2 Kirk Worley) The package includes two of these.
A Sea Ark Dauntless patrol boat operating in San Diego. The type has been a very common sight at locales where U.S. Navy ships operate from for years now. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Moriatis/Released. Ten of these 34 foot boat are included in the aid package.
While the 35 and 34 foot boats have been identified as to type, the six 40 foot boat have not. The post speculates that these may be of a type exported under Foreign Military Sales in 2020. I think, it is not unlikely these may be the new Navy 40 foot force protection patrol boats. They are an improvement on the 34 foot Sea Ark boats. They can be armored. They have an electro-optic system on the mast. They would be particularly useful if they had the remote weapon system on the bow they were designed to carry.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone. The Ukrainians have been attacking Russian vehicles with guided weapons, launched from UAS since the invasion began. Hitting a boat, is, if anything, easier than hitting a particular moving vehicle on a landscape cluttered with other vehicles, buildings, trees, and various heat sources.
But perhaps for those who have not been paying attention this may be a wakeup call. I happy to be able to say it looks like the Coast Guard has recognized this as a threat to our boats in PATFORSWA.
But maybe we need to look beyond the threat of nation states. Like other effective, but relatively cheap weapons, UAVs, and particularly suicide drones, are likely end up in the hands of non-state actors, including criminal and terrorist organizations.