Footage of the attack was first shared by several accounts via Twitter on March 22, 2023. The video shows that a surface drone was shot down by Russian forces while approaching Sevastopol. There are also some other videos showing traces of machine gun shots, which were probably fired by the Russian units on the coast defending the base against the drones.
The videos suggest that the drone was hit by machine guns, not missiles. Here is the footage showing Russian fire against the drones.
According to the observations, the USVs used in yesterday’s assault are different compared to the previous attacks on Sevastopol and Novorossiysk. However, information about the new USVs is quite limited. At first look, the new drones seem smaller, with a smaller profile above the waterline. There is no sensor can be seen apparently onboard the surface drone.
H. I. Sutton, an OSINT analyst and regular Naval News contributor, compared the two drones on his blog, and the differences in the size of the drones are clear in the image below. He states that it is still unconfirmed whether this new design was directly involved in this incident.
Ukraine’s first USV attack on the Sevastopol Naval Base was a real shock for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, perhaps one of two major naval incidents in the Russo-Ukrainian war. The Russian fleet was criticized by many analysts after the assault due to the lack of countermeasures in its most significant naval base in the Black Sea. On the other side, this attack was considered a breakthrough in naval warfare, standing as the first large-scale suicide naval drone attack in naval history.
A few months after the incident, a USV attack was reported in the Novorossiysk, but this time with minor damage.
As we have previously reported, fighting asymmetric threats and countering a swarm of drones is not easy for any force. It requires 24-hour sensitive vigilance, and weapons should be ready to fire at all times, because such attacks are usually carried out at the most sensitive times, such as in the middle of the night or during crew shift changes, etc.
In yesterday’s attack, Russia appears to have learned lessons from its previous losses, and countered the drone(s) on time with a successful hit. On the other hand, we don’t know how many USVs participated in this assault, and how the Russian forces detected and engaged the drones.
It is obvious that the chances of success decrease when such attacks are carried out with only a few drones. This is because it is relatively easier for any force to deal with a few drones than with dozens.
This attack has also shown that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is not safe in its main base in the Black Sea. We have very limited information, but as can be seen in the footage, Russian forces repelled the attack with machine guns. This type of defense and munitions would not be effective in future large-scale attacks unless Russia develops a sophisticated defense system against surface drones consisting of smart munitions and missiles.
… And it must be noted that we will witness drone attacks more and more in the naval scene.