The war in Ukraine is called a drone war for many reasons – and not because so much of the action is shown nearly live on social media.
Both sides have what seems like countless UAV weapons that can do a lot of damage.
And now, we even have drone attacks on naval warships – something Putin knows all too well.
Sink the Warships: Footage of Sevastopol Drone Strike Shared on Twitter
The attack, which had come in the early hours, had targeted vessels of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.
In the short clip, numerous explosions can be seen.
The raid, reportedly carried out by Ukrainian drones, likely targeted the ships in port and the dock facilities.
It is just the most recent raid conducted on the Russian naval facilities.
However, pro-Kremel officials were quick to downplay the attack.
Moscow-backed Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev took to the Telegram social media platform to claim that the Black Sea Fleet had successfully “repelled the attack of autonomous surface vehicles,” and said that three targets – believed to be sea-skimming drones – were eliminated with surface gunfire.
It is unclear what caused the explosions, or if any of the Russian military vessels were damaged.
However, windows in buildings near the waterfront were shattered by the explosions, Razvozhayev added.
Reuters reported at the time that the Russian-backed administration had suspended ferry routes around the port city.
It was just four days prior that Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to the coastal city.
Second Crimean Raid in as Many Days
The attacks on Sevastopol also come just a day after Ukrainian drones targeted a Russian train, reported to be carrying Kalibr NK cruise missiles, in the north of Crimea at the main rail hub in Dzankoi.
The government in Kyiv has not publicly claimed responsibility for either attack, but the Ukrainian military’s Operational Command South has claimed that the rail hub had been rendered non-operational by the attack.
Crimean Campaign – Coming Soon?
Sevastopol, along with the rest of the Crimean peninsula, had been illegally annexed by Russia in 2014 – and is still internationally recognized as being part of Ukraine. Kyiv has said that retaking the peninsula remains a key war priority.
Raids such as the one conducted on in March could a precursor to a large campaign.
Last October, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was hit by a major drone strike that has been compared to the attack conducted by the Royal Air Force on the Italian port of Taranto during the Second World War.
That daring raid, which damaged three Italian battleships, was studied by the Imperial Japanese Navy, which used it to devise its own attack on Pearl Harbor a year later.
That Ukrainian strike was seen as just as audacious, as it successfully disabled the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship frigate Admiral Makarov, and damaged at least two other ships. A swarm of drones, some flying in the air and others skimming along the water struck the Russian Navy in the early hours of October 29.
Video from one of the boats even documented how one of the unmanned vessels was able to successfully weave between enemy boats before making its way to target.
Reports suggested that Admiral Makarov, an Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate that entered service in 2018, suffered a breach to her hull and damage to the ship’s radar system.
A second attack was carried out just weeks later, during which time two drones were shot down. Moscow was quick to downplay the damage that raid inflicted – just as it did again on Wednesday – but as with the attack on Taranto and Pearl Harbor, it resulted in significant psychological damage.
It is worth noting that those were essentially one-off strikes, where the Balck Sea Fleet likely remains very much in the crosshairs. It isn’t a matter of if another drone strike will occur, but when.
More importantly, these raids suggest that Ukraine is serious about its intention to hit back at Russia and eventually take back all of Crimea.
Footage from the explosion in Sevastopol bay, most likely naval drones. pic.twitter.com/72OXUH4k8G
— NOËL ???????? ???????? (@NOELreports) March 22, 2023
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.