In the midst of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Russian Black Sea Fleet has mobilized all missile systems on its unengaged vessels. The morning of October 16th was punctuated by the resounding sound of artillery fire originating from the fleet, beginning at approximately 8:30 a.m. local time.
The sudden barrage was part of a training exercise, as confirmed by Mikhail Razvozhaev, the governor of Sevastopol, through his Telegram channel. He assured residents that despite the early morning disturbance, the city remained tranquil. The training began at the Northern Quay around 8:30 a.m.
Residents had been alerted about potential noise disturbances on October 15th, one day prior to the exercise. The Anti-Undersea Sabotage Exercise was expected to, and indeed did, result in significant noise in the North Mall area. Additionally, on October 13th, emergency response and search and rescue operations were conducted in the Black Sea as part of another round of exercises.
During the October 13th exercise, Sevastopol was enveloped in a cloud of misinformation. Unverified reports of a Russian warship being destroyed in a Sevastopol raid were circulated by Ukrainian sources and other agencies. These reports were swiftly debunked as “fake news” by Sevastopol authorities.
The Black Sea Fleet clarified in a press release that the sounds heard from the North Quay were part of ongoing exercises. These exercises involved anti-sabotage support crews and measures to protect against underwater saboteurs and unmanned boats. The city’s administration had been previously informed about these activities.
Razvozhaev reiterated the Black Sea Fleet’s statement regarding the noise on his Telegram channel: “Training sessions for the crews of the EDF are underway… Search and rescue exercises are also in progress in the Black Sea.”
In contrast, Ukrainian media have reported differing accounts of the events on October 13th. They have associated the explosions with alleged damage to the Russian ship, Pavel Derzhavin, in Sevastopol Bay. This damage is claimed to have been inflicted by covert underwater drones operated by the SBU and the Ukrainian Navy.
Ukrainian sources assert that the Russian vessels Buyan and Pavel Derzhavin were targeted by an experimental underwater drone developed by Ukraine, known as the ‘sea baby’. However, the Alrosa diesel-electric submarines reportedly remained unaffected.
To date, there has been no confirmation from Russia regarding any damage to the ship Pavel Derzhavin. The assertion that it was struck originates solely from Ukrainian authorities.
The alleged strike on the ship Pavel Derzhavin in the Black Sea, near the port of Sevastopol in Crimea, was confirmed by Pletenchuk on Radio Svoboda, the Russian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He stated, “You are the first to whom I officially confirmed today that it was damaged.” However, Pletenchuk did not disclose any further details about the incident.
The ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are armed with a variety of missiles for different applications. One such missile is the Kalibr cruise missile, which is commonly loaded into their missile launchers. These missiles can target both land and sea-based targets and have a range of up to 2,500 kilometers. They can be launched from both surface ships and submarines.
Another missile type found in the launchers of Russian ships in the Black Sea Fleet is the Oniks supersonic anti-ship missile. These missiles are designed to target enemy ships and have a range of approximately 500 kilometers. They can deliver a potent warhead capable of neutralizing enemy vessels, making them a critical part of the fleet’s offensive capabilities.
In addition to the Kalibr and Oniks missiles, the vessels of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are also armed with Shtil-1 medium-range surface-to-air missiles. These missiles serve a primary role in air defense, offering protection against hostile aircraft and incoming projectiles. The Shtil-1 missiles can reach targets up to 50 kilometers away.
Moreover, the fleet’s ships are equipped with Kh-35 anti-ship missiles. These missiles are specifically designed to target enemy surface vessels and have a range of approximately 130 kilometers.
The Kh-35 missiles are recognized for their ability to fly at low altitudes, which makes them challenging to detect and intercept. They are highly effective against a broad spectrum of targets, including warships, patrol boats, and other naval assets.