An image has emerged on social media showing serious damage to a Russian Black Sea Fleet warship after a Ukrainian cruise missile attack on Nov. 4.
The image shows the Project 22800 Karakurt class corvette Askold with extensive damage to its port side, including to its superstrcuture and mast, which includes its radar arrays, one of which can be seen exposed in the image. The image also shows damage to the dock where the Askold - designed to carry eight Kalibr cruise missiles - was berthed at the Zaliv shipyard in the Crimean port of Kerch. The new ship had yet to be commissioned.
In addition to the image showing the damage, video also emerged Monday showing the moment the ship was hit and the immediate aftermath. In this video below, you can see what appears to be a direct hit in the same location on the ship as seen in the picture showing the damage. There are several explosions and flying debris.
Ukraine on Monday confirmed the attack and the damage.
“The Russian missile carrier ‘Askold’ - the newest ship of the "’Karakurt’ project with ‘stealth’ technology was damaged as a result of” an attack on “the naval and port infrastructure of the ‘Zaliv’ plant in the temporarily occupied Crimea,” the AFU Stratcom Telegram channel reported. “According to available information, the ship has received significant damage and may be beyond repair.”
The Ukrainian Air Force also published a cheeky message on Twitter Monday, with a picture of a French-donated SCALP-EG air-launched cruise missile hung off an Su-24 Fencer.
"How was your weekend?" the tweet reads, accompanied by a winky smiley face emoji.
Ukraine first acknowledged the strike on Nov. 4.
“I would like to thank the pilots of the tactical aviation of the Air Force for the successful strikes with cruise missiles on the infrastructure of the ‘Zaliv’ shipyard in Kerch, where one of the most modern ships of the Russian Navy was stationed - the Kalibr cruise missile carrier,” Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Mykola Oleshchuk said on Telegram Nov. 4. He did not name the vessel and at the time said a damage assessment was still to come.
The strike hit about 160 or so miles from the front lines. As we reported previously, the SCALP-EG and similarly designed U.K. donated Storm Shadow air launched cruise missiles have a stated range of around 155 miles in export configuration and around double that in its standard configuration. It is not clear what version Ukraine got or if it has a mix of both.
Russian officials initially downplayed the incident.
“In the area of the shipyard named after Butoma in Kerch air defense worked, part of the fragments of downed missiles fell onto the territory of one of the dry docks,” occupation governor Sergey Akseonov wrote on Telegram Nov. 4. “There were no casualties. Stay calm and trust only official sources of information.”
The Russian Defense Ministry later acknowledged one of its ships was damaged during that attack.
“Ukraine rained 15 cruise missiles on Russia's shipyard in the Crimean port city of Kerch on Saturday, damaging one ship,” the Russian MoD said, according to Reuters. Of those missiles, 13 “were destroyed in the air, while one hit a ship,” the Russian MoD said, without naming the vessel or how much damage was caused.
The War Zone cannot independently verify the Russian MoD claim about the number of cruise missiles involved in that attack.
A day after the attack, a satellite image emerged on social media showing damage to the Askold and its dock.
This is the latest in a series of attacks on Russia's Black Sea Fleet that have damaged Russian vessels. They have occurred in Sevastopol, home of the BSF, as well as other ports in the region and on the Black Sea.
The Russian Navy the Ropucha class landing ship Minsk and Kilo class diesel-electric attack submarine Rostov-on-Don were also badly damaged in September after a reported Ukrainian cruise missile strike last week. You can see the damage to the submarine in this image below.
In addition to causing severe damage to a Russian missile ship, the attack is also significant because the Kerch port is located less than five miles from sections of the Kerch Bridge. The Storm Shadow's BROACH tandem warhead could cause significant damage to parts of that bridge.
Vladimir Putin's prized $4 billion span linking the occupied peninsula and Russia has come under attack twice before.
In September, Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defense Intelligence Directorate, promised that Ukraine would continue attacking the bridge until it is gone.
"It's not a question of will we strike or won’t we strike," he told us during an exclusive interview from his hotel room while he was visiting Washington D.C. "We're doing that regularly so we will finish it. It’s just an issue of time."
It is also not likely a question of if, but of when, more Russian port facilities are struck in Crimea.
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