News Region & Country Ukraine

Videos of Ukrainian drone boats swarming a Russian target end in explosion, mystery

Explosive-laden done boats have entered the chat.
Matt White Avatar
drone boat attack
An image from a Ukrainian drone boat captures its approach to a Russian naval ship. Photo from video released by the Ukrainian military.

New videos of a desperate shootout between a Russian Naval ship and at least two Ukrainian boat drones end in a huge but harmless explosion and, more ominously, a broken video feed with all the hallmarks of a direct hit on a Russian intelligence-gathering ship.

The videos, which emerged over the course of 24 hours from official news sources in both countries, show intense scenes of combat on the high seas, with an unclear finish. Ukrainians have used explosives-laden drone boats to attack Russian naval targets in the past, including a swarming assault in 2022 in Sevastopol that damaged ships in Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

A YouTube-based open-source research channel known as Suchomimus identified the ship as the Ivan Khurs, a small, lightly armed intelligence-gathering ship assigned to Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

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The new videos spread online over the past two days, with both Russian state media RT and the Twitter feed of the Ukrainian military claiming different parts of the footage showed a victory.

The first video, which spread on May 24, is taken from the deck of a large ship, watching an unmanned drone boat charge toward it. Tracer rounds from gunfire that appear to be heavy-caliber weapons impact in the water around the small boat until one seems to hit it squarely, causing a large explosion.

The flash, fireball, and size of the explosion show all the trademarks of high explosives found in bombs and other military ordnance.

The second video, which circulated on the morning of May 25, shows a similar encounter but from a different angle and may have ended much differently. In this video, the camera is mounted on the drone boat, broadcasting its approach to a Russian naval ship. Tracer rounds flash past it, similar to the first video, but none hit the boat.

Most online information available about the Ivan Khurs indicates it permanently carries just two heavy machine guns for self-defense.

In the final moments of the video, the boat maneuvers to within feet of the Russian ship’s stern, more or less adjacent to its engine compartments. The video then cuts out.

Though there is no way to confirm the outcome of the attack — or even the legitimacy of either video — if the second boat triggered an explosion similar to the one seen in the first video, the Russian ship likely suffered serious damage.

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