On Friday, Oct. 13, one such Ukrainian drone struck a Russian Buyan-M-class ship in Sevastopol Bay in Crimea. Two days before on Wednesday, Oct. 11, the patrol ship and missile carrier known as the "Pavel Derzhavin" was attacked by another drone. (Related: Russia pulls Black Sea vessels out of Crimea following Ukrainian missile, drone strikes.)
If these strikes can be independently confirmed by third parties, it could mean that Ukrainian drone strikes are placing additional pressure on Russia's ability to maintain a strong fleet presence in the Black Sea.
Ukraine has launched multiple missile and naval drone attacks on Russia's Black Sea Fleet in and around the Crimean peninsula since the beginning of Russia's special military operation in February 2022. Such attacks, Kyiv claims, are intended to deny Russia supremacy over the Black Sea and regain control of vital shipping routes for Ukrainian export goods.
The Buyan is known as a corvette or a small missile ship and it is capable of carrying anti-ship cruise missiles. The Buyan is designed mainly for coastal zone operations and is meant to provide additional defenses for Russia's coastal areas.
The Pavel Derzhavin is one of the Russian Navy's newest corvette patrol ships. It is also capable of carrying anti-ship cruise missiles and was just commissioned in 2020 and entered active service in June 2022, four months into the beginning of the conflict. Like the Buyan, it is also meant mainly to patrol coastal and territorial waters, although it can also be equipped for cargo ship escort and anti-submarine missions.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has confirmed in a statement that the attacks against the Buyan and Pavel Derzhavin ships were carried out using experimental drone technology known as the "Sea Baby."
A Ukrainian intelligence source who spoke with Reuters claimed that after the first strike on Wednesday, Russian minesweepers and divers scoured the waters in Sevastopol Bay but were unable to discover significant remnants of the Ukrainian drones.
The source added that a Russian submarine called the "Alrosa" was "lucky" and managed to escape.
"The carrier of cruise missiles Buyan could not repeat the feat of Alrosa, therefore it was struck today during the Sevastopol raid by the experimental weapons the 'Sea Babies,'" said the source.
"SBU warns the Moscow regime: Do not venture into Ukrainian waters if you wish to preserve any remnants of your fleet," said the source.
The Sea Baby is the latest version of an in-development Ukrainian unmanned surface vessel, or what is known as a drone boat or drone ship. The Sea Baby features a new hull design with a rising skiff-like bow.
While unconfirmed, initial reports from Ukrainian sources suggest that the Sea Baby may have been equipped with a special, 860-kilogram (1,896-pound) warhead, much larger than the explosives found in similar drone boats.
Learn more about the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine at UkraineWitness.com.
Watch this video allegedly of Pavel Derzhavin being struck by Ukrainian drones.