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Suspected Ukrainian Drone Strike Hits Black Sea Fleet's Fuel Depot

Fire started by drone strike

Published Apr 30, 2023 8:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, a major fire broke out at a fuel depot in the Russian-occupied port of Sevastopol, destroying multiple tanks and sending a plume of smoke skyward. Ukraine's military intelligence directorate claimed that the site supplies the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The fire broke out at a tank farm on Kozacha Bay, a sheltered inlet outside of the main port complex. The farm has about two dozen large tanks, and according to Ukraine's general staff, 10 tanks of oil products with a total capacity of about 40,000 tonnes were destroyed.  

Sevastopol's Russian-appointed governor, Mikhail Razvozhaev, said in a statement that the fire appeared to have been caused by a Ukrainian drone strike. The four-alarm fire drew a response from all available emergency response units, civilian and military - including a "fire train of the Crimean railway." Over 150 people were involved in the response at the peak, and they managed to extinguish the blaze by about 1800 hours. No injuries were reported, and Razvozhaev told residents that the incident would not affect the supply of fuel to local gas stations. He put the extent of the damage at four tanks, not 10. 

Mikhail Razvozhaev

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the fire, in keeping with its policy for all major incidents in Crimea. However, in a social media post, Ukraine's General Staff warned that the "hot resort season" is coming soon in Crimea, playing on Sevastopol's longtime status as a vacation destination for Russians.

The fire is the latest in a string of attacks at Sevastopol widely attributed to Ukraine. The port is the home of the Black Sea Fleet, which has launched repeated volleys of land-attack missiles against targets deep inside the Ukrainian heartland. 

In September 2022, a flotilla of black unmanned bomb boats attempted to strike Russian Navy warships in and around the seaport. Details of the outcome have not been confirmed, but at least one frigate may have been damaged. Russia's fleet has relocated much of its operations to Novorossiysk, well to the east.