Ukrainian Air Force Strikes Russian Tanker on Dnipro Estuary

Debris falls back to earth after a Ukrainian strike on a vessel on the Crimean Peninsula (Ukrainian Air Force)
Debris falls back to earth after a Ukrainian strike on a vessel on the Crimean Peninsula (Ukrainian Air Force)

Published Mar 11, 2024 5:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, Ukraine's air force carried out a strike on a Russian-occupied merchant ship that has been grounded on the Dnipro Estuary for months. The Ukrainian military claims that the vessel has been in use as a listening post by Russian forces; Russia has not confirmed the attack. 

The ship has been identified by Ukrainian media as the Russian product tanker Mekhanik Pogodin. The force of the blast appeared to send a large piece of debris soaring skyward, and it tumbled back into the water off the starboard side. The falling object appears to match the general shape of the Pogodin's free-fall lifeboat, and later segments of the video show that it remained afloat. 

The Pogodin is grounded on a spit that extends from the north side of the Crimean Peninsula, an area held by Russia since 2014. The spit is strategically located on the approaches to the Ukrainian port of Kherson, and Ukraine's military believes that the vessel was used by Russia as a command post and surveillance station. Naval analyst H.I. Sutton dates the Pogodin's presence at the grounding site back to early June 2023. 

The strike is the latest in a long and growing list of Ukrainian attacks on Russian vessels, from corvettes to landing ships to the occasional submarinecruiser or tanker. According to UK intelligence, Ukrainian maritime strike capability has pushed the Russian Navy out of the western half of the Black Sea, ensuring the security of merchant traffic to and from the port of Odesa. 

Over the weekend, Russian state media reported that the commander in chief of the Russian Navy has been removed and replaced with a new commander, Adm. Aleksandr Moiseev. At the regional level, the Black Sea Fleet has had three commanders in two years.