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Ukraine Hits Russian Patrol Boats & Petroleum Tanks in Black Sea

A Ukrainian Magura V5 drone boat detonates against the hull of a Tuna-class Russian patrol vessel (GUR)
A Ukrainian Magura V5 drone boat detonates against the hull of a Tuna-class Russian patrol vessel (GUR)

Published Jun 3, 2024 6:03 PM by The Maritime Executive

Satellite imagery and video footage appear to confirm reports of two separate Ukrainian attacks on Russian assets in the Black Sea last week: a drone boat strike in western Crimea, and a missile strike on a petroleum facility at the port of Kavkaz. 

On Thursday, Ukraine's General Staff claimed credit for an ATACMS missile strike on the port of Kavkaz. According to pro-Ukraine accounts, residents of Kavkaz reported up to 10 explosions in a row overnight Wednesday; bystander imagery appeared to corroborate a series of explosions and fires at the facility, but the authenticity of the footage could not be immediately confirmed. 

Satellite imagery obtained by Radio Free Liberty (a U.S. government-funded news outlet) appears to show limited damage to a tank farm at the port. 

The Ukrainian military also claims to have damaged two vessels that were used for Russian military logistics. The satellite imagery appears to show that two vessels that were present at the pier in Kavkaz before the date of the alleged attack have now departed. 

Kavkaz is Russia's fifth-busiest port in cargo turnover, and the second-busiest Russian port in the Black Sea area (after Novorossiysk). It is also home to an unusual nine-car rail ferry crossing, connecting to Russian-occupied Crimea on the opposite side of the Kerch Strait. 

   

Separately, Ukraine's defense ministry claimed another successful drone strike on the Black Sea Fleet, this time in the northwestern Black Sea. The targets this time were smaller in scale - two Tuna-class patrol boats - but the outcome appeared to favor Ukrainian forces. Footage released by Ukrainian intelligence shows the drones approaching the Russian patrol vessels under fire, dodging tracers on their way to making contact with the vessels' hulls. Ukraine's "Group 13" drone boat task force claimed to have damaged two of the patrol vessels and destroyed two more. 

 

After damage or destruction of at least 15 full-size Russian warships, the once-powerful Black Sea Fleet has retreated to the relative safety of Novorossiysk, a Russian harbor in the northeastern Black Sea. The small Tuna-class patrol craft are among the few targets left on the west side of Crimea, where Ukraine has concentrated its efforts.