Days after the Ukrainian Navy dealt a severe blow to the Russian Navy by attacking a dry dock in Sevastopol, photographs published by OSINT groups have revealed that a Russian kilo-class submarine suffered more serious damage than was previously anticipated.
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Ukraine’s attack on a Russian naval facility in Crimea in the early hours of September 13 reportedly damaged two Russian warships. In the aftermath of the attack, Ukrainian forces confirmed they had used the British long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to carry out the attack.
Several credible sources, including the UK Ministry of Defense, stated that the submarine in question is Project 636.3 Rostov-on-Don (B-237). This improved Kilo-class submarine can launch Kalibr land attack cruise missiles. One of four of its kind in the Black Sea Fleet, this submarine went into service in 2014.
Although it was confirmed soon after the attack that the Rostov-on-Don Russian cruise missile carrier and the Minsk Kremlin cruiser both sustained considerable damage in the massive Ukrainian strike, the extent of that damage remained unknown for lack of more specific information from Russia.
However, a set of photographs posted by an independent investigative organization named ‘Conflict Intelligence Team’ (CIT) showed massive damage to the exterior of the Rostov-on-Don submarine. The CIT team posting the images to Platform X (previously Twitter) mentioned that the submarine had received two hits, one of which was not visible in the satellite images.
CIT received exclusive photos of the damaged Russian submarine Rostov-on-Don. They indicate she received two hits, one of which is not visible from the satellite imagery.
— CIT (en) (@CITeam_en) September 18, 2023
As per a preliminary examination of the photographs, a massive hole could be seen in the bow, which appears to have been caused by a direct hit. According to military watchers, another significant damage could be seen on the rear end of the vessel near the propulsion space and even the hull. This means the submarine’s interior components may also have suffered severe damage.
In totality, an expert who did not want to be named told EurAsian Times, “It was obvious that the hole would have caused the inside of the submarine to flood, damaging the sensitive equipment inside the vessel.”
Refined likely damage assessment: this is an ex-submarine
New photos of #Russian navy submarine hit by #Ukrainian cruise missiles in Sevastopol show damage is even worse than previous noted. Photos appear credible. Pressure hull has massive breaches pic.twitter.com/a9doVcmHmk
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) September 18, 2023
OSINT and Naval Analyst H.I. Sutton wrote on X, “Damage to the rear section near propulsion space, as well as bow area, means no hull sections are likely salvageable. Implications are that internals are wrecked along most or the whole length of the submarine.”
However, the extent of the submarine’s damage suggests that it must be entirely written off. In the best-case scenario, it must be rebuilt using any salvageable parts, keeping it out of commission for years.
Sutton noted, “I am confident that any repair (which is anyway unrealistic) cannot be done in Sevastopol. The submarine must be patched and towed or on a barge, probably to St. Petersburg.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), on its part, is yet to issue a statement.
Military analysts also noted that the Storm Shadow missile likely hit the Russian submarine in the “follow through bomb mode,” as hinted by the impact. As the images ravaged the internet, pro-Ukrainian netizens wrote in jubilation that the British missiles did an excellent job. This may be the most significant strike made using the British long-range missiles that have rattled the Russians.
This confirms the first submarine loss of the Russian Navy and the most significant loss to the service since the sinking of the Russian cruiser Moskva last year after it was struck by Ukraine using the Neptune anti-ship missile. After burning for a considerable time, Moskva met a tragic fate as it sank in the Black Sea.
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Soon after the strike, preliminary satellite footage started to show the severe damage dealt to the submarine and the landing ship. The vessels themselves appeared to be partially burned out, and the stability of the entire dry dock complex where they were housed was also in jeopardy.
The Russian MoD stated that ten missiles and three unmanned surface vessels (USVs), also known as drone boats, were allegedly used in the attack, with seven missiles being shot down.
As soon as the strike was conducted, experts and military enthusiasts started to speculate that the missiles fired were air-launched SCALP-EG and/or Storm Shadow standoff missiles that Ukrainian Su-24 Fencer strike/reconnaissance planes may employ to launch.
Moreover, the Ukrainian media posted a message from Nikolay Oleshchuk, which he shared on his Telegram channel. It stated, “In the meantime, the occupiers are being “stormed” and are still recovering from the night battle in Sevastopol; I thank the Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine pilots for their excellent combat work! To be continued.”
It is possible that Ukraine successfully struck a Russian improved Kilo submarine and/or a landing ship at Sevastopol Shipyard drydocks.
Once daylight hits, we should hopefully get confirmation. pic.twitter.com/wzUC1q0IMo
— Global: Military-Info (@Global_Mil_Info) September 13, 2023
Sevastopol has faced multiple missile attacks from Ukrainian forces, which can be attributed to its role in assisting Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which has its headquarters there. The Storm Shadow missiles supplied by the UK have expanded Ukraine’s capability to carry out precise strikes against valuable Russian targets previously out of reach.
Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian President’s Office, suggested that these attacks were crucial to disrupting the logistics of the Russian army in addition to imposing sanctions and limiting the ability of the Russian military-industrial complex to produce weapons in what appears to be a reference to the attack on Sevastopol.
Although the fight between Ukraine and Russia is primarily waged on land and in the air, the Black Sea Fleet has taken a significant toll. A drone had earlier struck the Olenegorsky Gornyak, its landing ship near Novorossiysk, a port in southern Russia only 70 miles east of the Crimean Peninsula, occupied by Russia since 2014.
Four Black Sea Fleet warships had previously been successfully rendered inoperable by Ukraine before this strike. Losses include the cruiser Moskva, sunk by an anti-ship missile in April 2022. The landing ship Saratov was hit by a ballistic missile in March 2022; the rescue ship Vasily Bekh was also struck by an anti-ship missile; and Olenegorsky Gornyak was hit by a Ukrainian unmanned surface vessel attack.
The Ukrainians have also severely damaged or sunk several Russian landing craft and patrol vessels.
Since it had only one warship, the Ukrainian Navy, known as a shipless Navy, has received praise for its most recent attack. Its navy has just one old landing ship that serves as a warship. The Ukrainian Navy makes up for what it lacks in massive hulls and boats with stealth and tactical prowess.