Ukraine War Naval Update

Besides your typical maritime harassment seen in the area in the past few years– GPS jamming, AIS spoofing, communications jamming, electronic interference, and cyber-attacks– Lloyds and NATO warn shipping that “collateral damage or direct hits on Civilian Shipping in the North-Western Black Sea area are considered VERY HIGH.”

This includes mines, which the 2,100 dwt Estonian-owned, Panama-flagged cargo ship MV Helt may have sunk by last week off Odessa.

Word is that the Russians may have forced the vessel to act as a lane-clearer in the aspect that “any ship can sweep for mines…once.”

When it comes to missiles or rockets, it appears at least three neutral party merchant vessels have taken hits in the area since the war started.

  • Millennial Spirit (IMO 7392610), a 2,200-ton Moldavian-flagged chemical tanker, was attacked on 25 February and burned for two days.
  • Namura Queen (IMO 9841299), a Japanese-owned Panama flagged 85,065-dwt kamsarmax, was hit on 25 February.
  • Yasa Jupiter (IMO 9848132), a Turkish-owned Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, with 11 Filipino crew, was hit on 24 February but was able to make it to port in Turkey.

In other naval news from the Black Sea, it has been confirmed that the Ukrainian Navy scuttled their flagship and only frigate, the Krivak III-class Hetman Sahaidachny (U-130).

The lightly armed 3,500-ton OPV had been in a maintenance availability at Mykolaiv and was ordered wrecked to prevent her from falling into Russian hands.

The Ukraine Navy ship Slovyanks (P190)— formerly the 110-foot Island-class USCGC Cushing is allegedly sunk, with the parents of several of her crewmembers posting pleas for information. According to a Russian report (so hold your breath) the Mayor of the city of Yuzhne, Volodymyr Novatsky, said the patrol boat was sunk on 3 March by an anti-ship missile of Russian naval aviation. 

110 foot Islands Slavyansk and Starobilsk in better times. They are the former Bollinger-built Islands, ex-USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321) and ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323).

The Ukrainians have managed to get one lick in, though.

On Monday night, Ukrainian Naval Infantry units reportedly hit the 1,800-ton Russian corvette, RFS Vasily Bykov off Odessa with a shore-based anti-ship missile (some chatter is that it was a GRAD rocket or even an ATGM instead). Heavily damaged and forced to retreat, it reinforces how dangerous it is to work in the littoral, even when you have control of the sea. 

Russian corvette, RFS Vasily Bykov, has reportedly been heavily damaged by shore-based fires near Odessa this week. 

In one report, Ukrainian small boats okie-doked the Russian Project 22160 patrol boat to chase them towards a camouflaged firing position, where he (Russian vessels are always “he”) was shelled and hit with at least one lucky shot. Dawn showed the vessel on fire offshore.

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