On Friday 17th June, 2022 the Ukrainian Forces hit the Russian naval tugboat RFS SPASATEL VASILIY BEKH SB-739 with two Harpoon missiles in the Black Sea the first time it has claimed to have struck a Russian vessel with Western supplied Harpoon Missiles.
The naval tug was transporting ammunition, weapons and personnel from the Black Sea Fleet to Snake Island off the Ukrainian coast. Russia seized the island on the first day of its invasion, but Ukraine recently has pummelled Russian forces there after sinking the Russian cruiser RFS MOSKVA which had provided air defence. Russian officials didn’t comment.
Ukraine’s defence minister said last month that Ukraine had started receiving Harpoon missiles from Denmark, deliveries that he said were the result of cooperation between several countries. The Harpoon anti-ship missile uses active radar homing and flies just above the water to evade defences. It can be launched from ships, submarines, aircraft or coastal batteries. Ukraine’s Naval Command said the Russian tugboat had a TOR anti-air missile system on board.
Rescue Tug SB-739 (Project 22870) was laid down at the Zvezdochka Shipyard, Astrakhan with yard No 008, launched on 2nd August 2016 and commissioned on 16th January 2017. On 19th April 2021 she was renamed as SPASATEL VASILIY BEKH.
Meanwhile New photos emerged early Friday 17th June on social media showing Russia’s Buyan-M-class corvette (Project 21631) , reportedly as the VELIKIY USTYUG “slightly” damaged in an attack by Ukrainian Forces off the Odesa coast by BM-21 Grad System. Russian officials denied that one of her warships was damaged, but new photos confirm that the corvette received numerous shrapnel damage consistent with multiple rocket launchers.
Kremlin has repeatedly tried to hide the fact of the attack on her ships, including the cruiser RFS MOSKVA.
All photographs are of the Project 22870 SB-565 PROFESSOR NIKOLAY MURU offshore Malta back to 23rd June, 2016.
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Published – Tuesday 21st June, 2022.