How Ukraine turned a 12-foot boat into a floating guided missile

How Ukraine turned a 12-foot boat into a floating guided missile

Since Russia launched its “special military exercise” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, both sides have hurled a dizzying array of weapons at each other, ranging from state-of-the-art electronic devices to truck-mounted unguided vehicles. katyusha rockets World War II era. In October 2022, Ukrainian cities were devastated by waves of simple and cheap flying bombs called Shahed (“witness”) 136 by the Iranians who supplied them and geran (“geranium”) 2 by the Russians who modified and used them.

Not to be outdone, whether in high-tech or low-tech weaponry, Ukraine unleashed a simple explosive device of its own, designed to strike not from the air, but from the sea.

Sometimes initially called a “kamikaze ship”, it has been more accurately known, until now, as an unmanned surface vessel or USV.

A look back at history

The use of expendable warships to eliminate larger ones dates back to the use of fire ships in the 16th century. During World War I and World War II, the Italians devised several ingenious small warships, such as the MT, a high-velocity explosive canister that was launched from a destroyer and steered toward its victim by a single crewman who during final approach would bail out: a dumb idea. which succeeded in crippling the British heavy cruiser HMS York and the Norwegian oil tanker Pericles in Souda Bay, Crete, on March 26, 1941.

A more literal suicide weapon was the Shinyo (“shaking ocean”) ship, a floating kamikaze that launched into the 1945 Okinawa campaign with little success.

Such, for what it’s worth, were the precedents that may have inspired Ukraine to resort to a robotic variation.

current attacks

The outside world first learned of the new marine spoiler on September 21, when the Russians discovered a small electrically powered boat stranded in Omega Bay, near their Black Sea base in Sevastopol. From photographs of the strange little craft and its subsequent activities, Russian and foreign observers pieced together a new weapon. Just 12 feet long, her aluminum hull contained (from bow to stern) two FAB 500-series explosive contact detonators, a pedestal-mounted infrared electro-optical device, an electric motor, a Starlink satellite dish and a Sea-produced in Canada. Doo water jet outlet. Although her speed was estimated at 46 mph, the ship offered a cross section of only 0.6 meters to an enemy radar, smaller than a submarine’s periscope.

The next time the world heard about the USV was on October 29, when the Russians reported an attack on Sevastopol that would have been a gesture of audacious suicide had humans been present.

According to Russian accounts, nine aerial drones and seven kamikaze drone ships attacked the Black Sea Fleet in its Crimean lair. Fighting with missiles, cannons, anti-aircraft artillery and a Mil Mi-8 helicopter destroyed seven of the attackers, four by naval fire and three by units on the ground.

small but mighty

The Russians initially claimed that their own forces had been unharmed, but black-and-white video footage quickly surfaced on YouTube, forcing the Russians to revise that report to claim that the Admiral Makarov frigate, which had served as the insignia of the Black Sea Fleet after Moskva. She had been sunk by Ukrainian missiles on April 14, she had sustained minor damage and the radar of the 873 ton minesweeper Ivan Golubets had gone out and her hull was punctured. At least one of the ships was hit by one of the marine drones. A floating net barrier in Yuzhnaya Bay was also damaged by the explosion of one of the USVs.

Contradictions continued to emerge after the attack. Ukrainian journalist Andriy Tsaplienko stated that “there is a high chance that several ships will not only be damaged, but will sink.” This seems unlikely because the two warships, unlike the hapless Moskva, were near repair facilities.

The Russians later reported that the USVs had been dispatched by the Navy’s 73rd Special Operations Center from Ochakiv, a port more than 150 kilometers from Sevastopol, and that an American RQ-4B Global Hawk reconnaissance drone had taken off from Italy. at the same time as the attack, implying that it may have helped the USVs navigate to the target. Other sources claimed that the USV had been brought to the target and launched from a cutter in the open sea.

Breach of the Grain Broker

Back in Kyiv, the Ukrainian government denied responsibility for the attack until one of its own journalists, Yuri Butusov, claimed that he had been jointly executed by the Ukrainian army and the SBU intelligence agency.

Whatever the details, the attack on Sevastopol had repercussions. Russian President Vladimir Putin retaliated by declaring that the new weapons are a threat to all ships in the Black Sea and that he would consequently cancel Turkey’s recently brokered deal to allow Russian and Ukrainian ships to transport grain abroad. until at least November 19. Putin’s decision would have greatly reduced the export of critically needed food around the world, but three days later he relented and grain exports resumed… on the condition that Ukraine never again violates the “trade corridor”. grains” when conducting naval operations in the Black Sea.

And so another weapon entered the Ukrainian war. How much impact it will have on the outcome of the conflict remains to be seen, but its first action has already had consequences disproportionate to the diminutive size of the UVS.

history magazines

Our 9 best-selling history titles feature detailed narratives and iconic imagery to engage and inform the people, wars, and events that shaped America and the world.

Leave a Comment