Despite Ukrainian Claims, Russian Navy Support Ship Appears Unharmed

The Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet has released photos appearing to show Vsevolod Bobrov safe at the pier in Sebastopol (Russian Navy / Telegram)

Published May 15, 2022 8:52 PM by Paul Benecki

U.S.-backed media outlet Radio Svoboda has confirmed reports that the Russian naval auxiliary Vsevolod Bobrov has returned safely to Sebastopol, without apparent signs of damage. 

Last Thursday, two Ukrainian officials claimed that the Bobrov had been hit by a Ukrainian attack in the Black Sea and had caught fire, without providing video or photographic evidence. "As a result of the actions of our Navy, the Vsevolod Bobrov logistics ship, one of the newest in the Russian fleet, set on fire. They say she is limping toward Sevastopol," claimed Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa Regional Military Administration. Bratchuk acknowledged that the strike still had to be confirmed.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, made a similar claim in a social media post Thursday. 

However, photos recently uploaded by the Telegram channel of the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet appeared to show the Bobrov from the starboard side, moored securely in Sebastopol and without visible damage. The photos were accompanied by a claim that the Bobrov is intact.

Separately, a timelapse security-camera video uploaded by a Russian-speaking user on May 14 (below) appears to show the Bobrov transiting to her berth. Both sides of the vessel are depicted in the video and there are no apparent signs of damage.

In addition, a local correspondent in Crimea has confirmed to U.S.-backed Radio Svoboda that the Bobrov has indeed returned to port.

Ukrainian officials also recently claimed a successful hit on the Russian frigate Admiral Makarov, the most advanced remaining surface combatant in Russia's Black Sea Fleet. The report has not been confirmed, and photos appearing to show the Makarov in Sebastopol unharmed have circulated online. 

In the early days of the invasion, the Ukrainian military also claimed to have hit a Russian patrol ship, the Vasily Bykov, using an unguided rocket artillery system. The strike has not been confirmed, and video footage of the Bykov returning to Sebastopol unharmed has circulated on Russian-language social media. 

There may be legitimate grounds to question some of Ukraine's naval-action claims, but the Russian Navy has also suffered serious confirmed losses during the conflict, including the dramatic destruction of an Alligator-class landing ship at Berdyansk (claimed by Ukraine) and the loss of the cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet (claimed by Ukraine and confirmed by the United States). The Ukrainian military has also released video footage of aerial attacks on several Raptor-class patrol boats and one smaller landing craft at Snake Island, a strategic outpost in the Black Sea.