6 Ukrainian Kamikaze USVs ‘Attack’ Russian Priazovye Spy Warship; RuMoD Calls Its Unsuccessful Attempt

The Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) stated on June 11 that their Navy Intelligence Ship ‘Priazovye’ came under attack by six Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) allegedly belonging to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

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In a telegram post, the RuMoD announced that Russian forces successfully repelled a massive attack by Ukrainian high-speed marine drones on a Russian naval ship in the Black Sea.

The post referred to the attack as an “unsuccessful attempt” by Ukraine.

Subsequently, the Russian defense ministry released a video of the expulsion of the Ukrainian drone boats. The footage shows the ship’s crew firing its conventional guns at the approaching surface unmanned boats.

The RuMoD’s stated that the warship was reportedly keeping an eye on “the situation and ensuring security along the routes of the TurkStream and Blue Stream gas pipelines in the southeastern part of the Black Sea.”

According to reports, the purported strike was conducted in the early morning of June 11, around 185 miles southeast of Sevastopol, an important port and the base of operations for Russia’s Black Sea navy on the Crimean Peninsula.

The video widely shared on the internet shows the USV being attacked by an AK-630 naval CIWS of the Russian Navy Intelligence Ship Priazovye. The pro-Ukrainian war monitoring social media accounts identified the Ukrainian USVs attacking the Russian spy ship as “Cat and Raccoon.”

The attack is significant as it comes just weeks after another Russian intelligence-gathering ship of the Yuriy Ivanov class named ‘Ivan Khurs’ was attacked in the Black Sea about 90 miles northeast of Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait on May 24.

The Russian MoD said the ship escaped unscathed, but one Ukrainian unmanned vehicle appeared to have struck the Russian cruiser, according to footage from a drone’s onboard camera posted on Telegram and pro-Ukrainian social media.

Russia said that all three attacking USVs were destroyed by the Ivan Khurs’ deck-mounted 14.5mm machine guns at that time. The vessel returned to the Sevastopol port later. Kyiv has not officially taken accountability for the drone boat attacks on Russian spy vessels sailing in the Black Sea.

The said attack comes at a time when an intense fight is raging between the two sides on the frontlines. In just the first few days of Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia, it has lost several Western tanks and armored vehicles. However, as per Ukrainian claims, Russia has lost more equipment than the Ukrainian military.

However, the attack on the Russian vessel Priazovye indicates that the Ukrainian military has not lost sight of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Since the initial days of the invasion, Ukraine has made attempts (many successful) to attack Russia’s flagships and its Black Sea port Sevastopol.

With Ukraine’s increased use of UAVs and USVs, Russia has become more protective and wary of its strategic Sevastopol port. This especially became evident as the Black Sea Fleet recently conducted anti-sabotage exercises in Sevastopol.

Russia’s Priazovye Spy Ship

The Priazovye belongs to the group of intelligence-gathering vessels known as the Vishnya class—also referred to as the Meridian class which were produced for the Soviet Navy in the 1980s but continue to remain in active service with the Russian Navy.

These are big, purpose-built vessels with various sensors to gather SIGINT and COMINT electronic intelligence. Satellite link antennas could be used to send the data to land. The ships of this class, including the Priazovye, are equipped with two AK-306 close-range weapon systems and 2×4 9K38 Igla Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) launchers.

Intelligence Ship Priazovye :: Black Sea Fleet Photoalbum
File Image: Intelligence Ship Priazovye

The ship’s electronic intelligence equipment was upgraded in 2008 to keep it more relevant.

Priazovye has hull number 201 and had been previously deployed to the Mediterranean region between 2020 and 2021. The ship measures 91.5 meters in length and can travel at 16 knots. Moreover, the ship is propelled by 2×2200 hp Sulzer 12AV25/30 diesel, 2×150 hp electric motors, two fixed pitch propellers, and 4×500 kW diesel generators.

The vessel was launched on June 12, 1987, and currently serves with the Russian Black Sea fleet.