Pirates of the Black Sea
Well, by now everyone knows what that pic is about;
A Russian warship was seriously damaged in an overnight Ukrainian naval drone attack on Russia's Black Sea navy base at Novorossiysk, the first time the Ukrainian navy has projected its power so far from the country's shores.
Russia's Defence Ministry said a Ukrainian attack by two sea drones had been repelled in the waters outside the base and that the drones had been destroyed. It made no mention of any damage in its short statement.
A Ukrainian intelligence source said the Olenegorsky Gornyak, a Russian Navy landing ship with around 100 Russian servicemen on board, had been hit by a sea drone carrying 450 kilograms of TNT.
"As a result of the attack, the Olenegorsky Gornyak received a serious breach and currently cannot conduct its combat missions," the source told Reuters, adding that the operation had been carried out by Ukraine's Security Service and the navy. "All the Russian statements about a 'repelled attack' are fake."
Video footage verified by Reuters showed the Olenegorsky Gornyak being towed to shore by a tug, listing heavily to its port side.
OK everyone … if you’re a pro, get out a globe, if not, find a paper chart, but if you can’t do any better - an online map will do.
Get it centered on the Black Sea. Ponder all you may or may not know about engine performance, small craft on the open seas, … and put on your best poker face. No laughing. No snickering.
Andriy Ryzhenko, a retired Ukrainian Navy captain and naval consultant, estimated the sea drones had travelled 740 km (460 miles) from their likely launch area to Novorossiysk, which would amount to a significant increase in their range.
"It was the first time ... the Ukrainian navy projected power so far away," he said.
First of all, net one below for the editor in translating kilometers to statute miles (sm). This is an iron clad rule; when dealing with distances at sea you use nautical miles (nm) - mostly because without it you can’t do the 3-minute or 6-minute rule in your head. Mostly.
I first ran out 460nm that brings you fully out of the Black Sea an in to the Sea of Marmara, which is silly … but then I realized sea-blindness is probably thick at Reuters.
Anyway, enough of the maritime pedantry, even with statue miles, that still isn’t a very helpful comment … impressively unhelpful, if you know what I mean.
I mean … that is like saying we attacked Tokyo with bombers that took off from Shangri-La.
Well, Andriy had a good giggle trolling everyone, but let’s just do a little basic chart work.
Let’s consult a chart with some simple range rings and distance calculations.
The red line is a possible path from Odesa to Novorossiysk that runs about 380nm. For reference, that is almost exactly the distance from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to Newport, Rhode Island.
The 740km/460sm/400nm Andriy mentioned is the larger magenta range ring that covers almost all the Black Sea.
Ukraine has been hitting Sevastopol with small surface drones for awhile. The general assumption - and we will assume for planning purposes that it is a valid one - was that these were being launched somewhere on the Ukrainian coast. Let’s say it was Odesa.
Odesa is 165nm from Sevastopol (yellow line). We’ll assume that is their operational range, as I don’t see how you can expect what is basically a militarized jet ski to make it to Newport from Norfolk. As a reference point, a garden variety Sea-Doo SPARK 60 HP jet ski can go 166nm on a tank of gas. So, we have a pretty good benchmark. We’ll work with what we have. Yes, a 450 kilo warhead is almost 1,000 pounds, but we have to use some benchmark - this is as good as any.
So, how do you get one of these sea-puppies in to Novorossiysk? That smaller magenta range ring is 165nm from Novorossiysk. You’ve probably figured out by now, but the green border around half the shoreline of the Black Sea represents 12-20nm from the NATO waters of Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey.
So, this begs the question; where are the mother ships and will someone tell me they are flying the Jolly Roger in the Black Sea when they launch these things?
OK, I am willing to admit that there is a chance that they are being launched from the Ukrainian Shores … but … come one. Have you read what the The Special Operations Executive (SOE) did in WWII? The OSS?
Well, true or not - I hope it is. I also hope that there is a lot of video and records being kept as this will make one hell of a story when the war is over.