Photos: Russian Sub Suffered Extreme Damage in Ukrainian Strike

The previously-unreported second hole in the sub's starboard side, aft of the conning tower. The first hole can be seen upper right, towards the bow (CIT)

Published Sep 18, 2023 3:25 PM by Paul Benecki

New imagery of the graving dock in Sevastopol's Pivdenna Bay appears to confirm that a Ukrainian missile strike has indeed destroyed a Kilo-class submarine. 

A UK military intelligence satellite photo analysis released Friday shows what appears to be a large hole in the top of the sub's bow section. The British assessment described it as "extensive" damage, consistent with Ukrainian accounts of a successful strike.  

UK Ministry of Defense / CNES / Airbus DS

New photos released Monday by the Russian dissident media organization Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) appear to show extreme damage to the sub's bow, plus a previously-unreported second hole in the starboard side (image at top). The images have been widely recirculated on social media and in the press: 

Damage to the sub's bow (CIT)

Repeated explosions were heard at the shipyard on the night of the attack, raising the possibility of secondary explosion(s) aboard the sub. The size and location of the second hole could also suggest a second missile strike approaching from the sub's east-facing starboard side. Ukrainian-held territory is 100 miles to the north, suggesting a southbound missile trajectory, but the UK-built Storm Shadow missiles used in the attack can maneuver during flight. 

The authenticity of the photos could not be immediately verified, but members of the open source intelligence community have assessed that they appear valid, including noted naval analyst H.I. Sutton. 

"Damage is even worse than previous noted. Photos appear credible. Pressure hull has massive breaches," said Sutton in a brief update. "Refined likely damage assessment: this is an ex-submarine."

CIT has a long history of publishing unflattering information about Russian military operations. Like Amnesty International and the International Transport Workers' Federation, Conflict Intelligence Team is a listed "undesirable organization" in Russia; the designation means that CIT's staffmembers risk trial and imprisonment for continuing to release photos and stories online.