TechRussian navy sinks own submarines to evade Ukrainian drone strikes

Russian navy sinks own submarines to evade Ukrainian drone strikes

Two submarines (half sunk) in Novorossiysk
Two submarines (half sunk) in Novorossiysk
Images source: © X | @MT_Anderson

3:37 PM EDT, May 19, 2024

The Russians sank two submarines belonging to the Black Sea Fleet. Both units are located in the port of Novorossiysk, where they are maintained partially submerged, reported the Ukrainian portal Defense Express. It is unclear what exactly the Russians aim to achieve with this tactic.

Recently, the Russians themselves admitted that they do not know how to defend against attacks by Ukrainian maritime drones carried out under the cover of night. In response, they began searching for suitable tools to increase the survival of the steadily shrinking Black Sea Fleet. In response to these needs, the Russian company Laboratory PPSH began producing thermal vision systems for the Russian navy, among other things.

Recent actions observed at the port in Novorossiysk appear to be an attempt to defend against the threat from Ukraine. In photos from May 17, 2024, it is evident that two submarines were sunk and remain partially submerged. The Russians sank these units in the standard berthing area of both submarines. What is the purpose of this tactic?

incomprehensible actions of the russians in the naval port

Defense Express notes that this is not the first instance where the Russians have decided to sink their ships and leave them partially submerged. However, it is significant that this is an impractical action — especially in the case of the Kilo-class units visible in Novorossiysk, which are responsible for carrying Kalibr missiles. Submerging the submarines in the port prevents the loading of ammunition on board.

Analysts suggest that the Russians may be attempting to camouflage the boats from Ukrainian kamikaze drones by sinking their equipment. This potential explanation of the Russian Federation army's behavior has its nuances.

Partially sunken submarines are still visible to maritime drones before striking the target—their upper elements can guide drones to conduct precise attacks. According to Defense Express, the most likely explanation is that the Russians want to camouflage the submarines from satellites by sinking them.

As noted by OSINT analyst MT_Anderson on platform X, the submerged submarines in Novorossiysk are Kilo-class units, Russian machines produced since 1980. Their armament includes 533 mm torpedo launchers, 9K34, 9K310 Strela-3, Igla-1 missiles, and the most valuable missiles in their arsenal, Kalibr.

Kalibr missiles come in various variants. The most dangerous is the version designated as 3M14, which reaches a range of 1,550 miles and is used to attack land targets. The 3M54 versions have a slightly shorter range, reaching almost 430 miles from the launch point, and are meant for attacking surface ships. Depending on the version, the warhead of this type of missile weighs between 880 and 1,100 pounds.

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