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Frontline report: Ukraine’s sophisticated drone and missile attack destroys two Russian Navy ships in Sevastopol shipyard

Ukrainian forces employ a multifaceted strategy to target the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol Bay, inflicting severe damage on two ships – landing ship Minsk and Kalibr-capable submarine Rostov-na-Donu – and maintenance facilities
Fire at Sevastopol shipyard following the Ukrainian missile attack on 13 September 2023. Screenshot from the video
Frontline report: Ukraine’s sophisticated drone and missile attack destroys two Russian Navy ships in Sevastopol shipyard

Day 567: Sep 13

Today, the biggest news comes from Crimea.

Map: screenshot from the video

Here, Ukrainians conducted the biggest and most successful strike on the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Local residents filmed multiple subsequent explosions in Sevastopol Bay and huge plumes of smoke rising towards the sky in the aftermath. The analysts quickly identified the location based on the footage and concluded that the fire actually seemed to be coming out of the area west of the bay with the Russian Fleet.

An explosion near occupied Sevastopol overnight on 13 September 2023. Screenshot from the video

Soon, local officials reported that most rockets were shot down and that the fires were quickly localized and put out. However, the situation was much worse. Based on the NASA FIRMS data, the strike targets were located in the eastern part of the bay. Later released footage allowed us to make a definitive conclusion – Ukrainians targeted the maintenance and repair facilities of the Russian fleet.

NASA FIRMS map showing fires in the eastern part of Sevastopol bay on 13 September 2023.

At the moment of the strike, two intact ships were undergoing maintenance work: the assault landing ship “Minsk”, and the submarine “Rostov na Donu”. Due to the abundance of confirmations online, the Russian Ministry of Defense had to admit that both vessels were damaged.

The Spokesman for Ukrainian Intelligence reported that Ukrainians likely inflicted irreparable damage not only to both vessels but also to the repair facilities. Recently released satellite footage gave more insight into the extent of the damage.

Sevastopol
A satellite image shows the aftermath of the Ukrainian attack on the Russian shipyard in occupied Sevastopol (Crime, southern Ukraine).
Credit: Planet.com

When it comes to the assault landing ship “Minsk,” we can see that the aluminum top part of the ship completely collapsed to the bottom, and the explosion likely caused a fire in the engine room as the whole ship was clearly burning. Given the extent of the damage, the ship can be considered destroyed. And this is already the third assault landing ship that Russians lost over the last year – the first being hit in Berdiansk and the second in the sea by a drone.

When it comes to the 300 million-dollar submarine “Rostov na Donu,” the vessel also received critical damage and was clearly burning. Russian analysts concluded that it would likely be easier to build a new submarine than repair this one, which is why the Russian carrier of Kalibr missiles can be considered destroyed as well.

Fire at Sevastopol shipyard following the Ukrainian missile attack. Screenshot from the video

On top of that, it was reported that up to 40 Russian marines were killed and wounded. At first, it was reported that the casualties were among the factory workers, but since the attack was conducted at night and there were no workers on the site, the losses were only among the marines on the watch.

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Ukrainians conducted a strike using three marine kamikaze drones and ten cruise missiles, interestingly, without specifying the type. The most prominent Russian sources reported that Ukrainians used modified S-200 ballistic missiles and that seven of them were shot down. However, Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk commented and jokingly said that the Russian fleet “was caught in a storm” today, hinting that Ukrainians used Strom Shadow missiles.

Screenshot from the video

If you still remember, a while ago, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that if Ukrainians use Western weapons in attacks on Crimea, then they would basically retaliate by attacking those countries that provided these weapons. However, there were already more than a dozen Strom Shadow strikes on Crimea, and Russians are still not admitting it because they do not know how to respond.

Ukrainian intel confirms damage to two Russian ships hit in occupied Sevastopol’s shipyard

That is why, officially, it was an S-200 missile strike. But Ukrainians also came up with an ingenious way to get away with this. At first, Ukrainians struck Crimean bridges, making it ambiguous as to whether it was within Crimean administrative borders. Then, they used S-200 missiles to strike Crimea, which are not Western-made.

And recently, Ukrainians started adding one or two Strom Shadow missiles each strike, on purpose, making it easier for Russians to find an excuse not to retaliate. Since 80 to 90% of missiles are S-200, the Russian Ministry of Defense reports that all missiles were S-200.

When it comes to today’s Ukrainian strike, Ukrainians developed a very complex strategy. At first, Ukrainians launched at least three marine kamikaze drones. The goal of this attack was to divert Russian attention toward the sea. Russian sources reported that all three drones were destroyed by the patrol ships, although later it was confirmed that Russians lost a boat in the western part of the sea, so it is possible that at least one drone hit the target.

Ukraine’s Naval Forces destroy Russian patrol boat in the Black Sea

Simultaneously, Ukrainians launched several S-200 missiles toward the Black Sea Fleet. Ukrainians understand that the air defense here is quite powerful, which is why they did not expect these missiles to pass through but rather used them for identification of the Russian air defense.

Once the missiles were shot down, Ukrainians reportedly launched at least 2 HARM missiles that are designed to pick up electronic signals from radars and destroy them, which completely blinds the air defense system.

Infographic showing the Ukrainian strategy in the attack on Sevastopol shipyard. Screenshot from the video

Finally, Ukrainians launched Storm Shadow missiles, and at least three of them reached their destination. The Head of the Ukrainian Air Force stated that the destruction of these three ships is just the beginning, and more strikes on Crimea will come soon.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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