Hit near Kerch: Ukrainian sea drones damage Russian tankers

A Russian merchant tanker known as Sig was attacked and disabled by a so-called sea drone near the Kerch Strait in early August. This was confirmed by an intelligence update from the UK Ministry of Defence. Just one night earlier, a Russian landing craft stationed in Novorossiysk had been similarly damaged.

Media reports, including The Kyiv Independent, refer to Ukrainian security service sources who claim that the attack on Olenegorskiy Gornyak in early August was the result of cooperation between Ukraine’s security service and the country’s navy. The British Ministry of Defense described the incident as a major setback for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, but stressed that it was the most severely damaged Russian naval vessel since Ukraine sank the cruiser Moskva the previous April.

Sig often transported military goods to Syria

According to The Kyiv Independent, the intelligence update further indicated that such sea drone strikes are becoming increasingly important in naval warfare. They could be used specifically against vulnerable parts of the Russian sea transport routes. Although the Sig is technically classified as a civilian ship, the UK Ministry of Defense has stressed that it has traditionally been used to transport fuel and military supplies from Russia to Syria.

Interestingly, the Sig has been crucial to Syria’s supply, especially since Russian military ships were banned from crossing the Bosphorus and Mediterranean in February 2022. Before attacking the Sig, the Russian Navy prevented a suspected drone attack on patrol boats escorting another merchant ship, the Sparta IV. This ship had also transported supplies to Syria for the Russian military.

Jean Harris

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