Russian Landing Ship Damaged in Aquatic Drone Attacks on Navy Base

Russia’s naval forces came under assault again early on Friday, with a suspected naval drone attack reportedly causing serious damage to a landing ship moored at a naval base in the Russian port city of Novorossiysk, informs newseek.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said that two naval drones were repelled as they approached the port early on Friday morning. But photos and videos soon emerged on social media showing the Olenegorsky Gornyak amphibious assault ship tilting heavily with emergency response vessels alongside it.

Ukrainian news outlet published a video on Telegram showing the damaged ship being towed to shore by rescue vessels.

A wave of Ukrainian drones simultaneously attacked targets in Crimea, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, which said it had downed 10 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

The pro-Ukraine «Real War» Telegram channel reported that a naval drone packed with 450 kilograms of explosives attacked the Olenegorsky Gornyak, blowing a «serious hole» in its side and leaving it «unable to perform its combat tasks.» The channel credited the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) with the operation.

A purported video of the attack was shared on social media, shot from a camera on the bow of the drone. The unmanned weapon can be seen approaching the left side of the Olenegorsky Gornyak before the feed cuts out, seemingly due to the drone detonating.

Newsweek was unable to independently verify the video and has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email to request comment.

Serhiy Bratchuk, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s Odesa military administration, posted a photo of the Olenegorsky Gornyak listing to its left side on Telegram. The ship, he said, is part of the Russia’s Northern Fleet that was redeployed to the Black Sea to support naval operations against Ukraine.

Andrii Ryzhenko, a retired Ukrainian naval captain and now a strategic expert at the defense and logistics consultant company Sonata, told Newsweek that the video of the drone attack showed «no defensive measures» undertaken by the Olenegorsky Gornyak.

«Everything was very calm, some of the windows of the ship were even open and there was light inside,» he said.

The vessel appeared badly damaged, Ryzhenko said, citing the videos of it being towed while tilting to one side, suggesting it was taking on water. «Most probably, all major internal mechanisms are very badly damaged,» he said.

«It will be very hard to restore it as well. It would take a long time and a lot of money. I think that this ship actually could sink because of the water. It’s probably easier just to recycle it, or build a new one.»

Ukrainian naval drone activity has intensified since Moscow withdrew from the Black Sea Initiative in July, a step taken in response to Kyiv’s naval drone attack that caused serious damage to the Kerch Strait Bridge that links Crimea to Russia.

Ukraine’s domestically developed drones—which according to a recent CNN report weigh up to 2,200 pounds, carry an explosive payload of up to 661 pounds and have a range of 500 miles as well as a maximum speed of 50 mph—have allowed Kyiv’s forces to contest the Black Sea even without a conventional navy.

Friday’s reported incident is the second Ukrainian drone attack on targets in Novorossiysk since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. In November 2022, naval UAVs reportedly attacked the Sheskharis oil terminal in the city’s port.

Still, Novorossiysk has been considered a safer option for Russian vessels given its distance of more than 300 miles from Ukrainian ports.

In September 2022, following repeated attacks on naval sites in occupied Crimea, the British Defense Ministry reported that Moscow had «almost certainly» relocated its Kilo-class submarines from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk, a move it said was «highly likely due to the recent change in the local security threat level in the face of increased Ukrainian long-range strike capability.»