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Black Sea Fleet Panic! The Harpoon anti-ship missile sank two landing ships in the Dnipro-Buh river

On June 17, Ukrαine’s Navy claimed a significant victory after hitting another Russiαn ship near the infamous Snake Island, an outpost seized by the Russiαn Navy early in the wαr.

The Ukrαiniαn Navy released a video of the devastating attack on the Russiαn rescue tug Spasatel Vatsily Bekh. The video shows two missiles striking a vessel nearly 19 miles east of Snake (or Zmiinyi) Island.

The tug boat was said to be delivering weαpσns and soldiers from the Black Sea Fleet to Snake Island. Ukrαiniαn officials claim that the Russiαn rescue vessel, Spasatel Vatsily Bekh, was struck by two Harpoon missiles, making this the weαpσn’s first effective combat use by Ukrαiniαn forces.

Apparently, a Bayraktar TB2 drone recorded the footage and was used to transmit the coordinates of the Russiαn ship.

According to a Ukrαiniαn regional official, land-based Harpoon anti-ship systems recently given to Ukrαine by the US and Denmark carried out the strike. It appears to be in line with the video’s sea-skimming cruise missiles.

The Vasily Bekh was allegedly armed with a Tor-M2 series surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, but it had failed to avoid the attack. This defense system is becoming standard on Russiαn warships operating in the Black Sea, particularly around Snake Island and the island.

The vessel’s and its crew’s whereabouts are unknown. One unverified Ukrαiniαn source claims that the strike “affected” “70% of the crew of the tugboat,” with the fate of the remaining crew unknown.

Vladimir Putin and Sergey Shoigu

A Major Setback For Russiα?

The Vasily Bekh is a Project 22870 class rescue tug, with a total length of 187 feet and a displacement of around 1,200 tons. It is one of six boats built as part of the project. Meanwhile, one more ship is reportedly under construction.

The tugboat will aid in the recovery of damaged ships in the sea. That involves providing fire fighting equipment to assist in fires on damaged vessels before towing them to port.

The Bekh also features emergency medical facilities and unmanned and manned ARS-600 submersibles that can dive to 60 meters to participate in submarine rescue missions.

Even though the ship lacked intrinsic armament, the Vassily Bekh had a Tor-M2MK short-range air defense vehicle on its deck as an improvised air defense system.

The attack comes after the loss of the Moskva, which Russiα initially blamed on a storm-caused weαpσns explosion. It might be seen as another massive setback for Russiα in the wαr, which has already lost many tanks and armored vehicles.

Moskva in the Black Sea after the explosion.

In an interview with CNN, Military analyst Lt. General Mark Hertling (Retd) described the latest attack as a “big deal,” saying, “Ukrαine currently does not have a navy, and they are defending their shoreline even though Russiα is claiming that they own all the ports along the Azov sea and most of those along the black sea.”

“This is a big deal, just like all the others, which might be considered small victories. They will continue to do this, especially as they get more and more anti-ship weαpσns,” Hertling added.

Harpoons Missiles

Since its introduction into US Navy service in 1977, the Harpoon missile has been the most widely used Western anti-ship weαpσn.

The latest variants of the Boeing-built turbojet-powered weαpσn have significantly increased range and guidance capabilities over the previous type.

In late May, the shipment of ground-launched Harpoons to Ukrαine and their critical launchers was announced. The United Kingdom had also provided land-based Brimstone anti-ship missiles to Ukrαine.

Harpoon Missile

While Ukrαine has its own locally manufactured Neptune anti-ship missiles, the pre-wαr stock was assumed insignificant. The Neptune missiles were credited for the successful Ukrαiniαn strike on the ship Moskva in April.

The destruction of Moskva was considered a big humiliation for Moscow as it was the flagship of the Russiαn Navy Black Sea fleet.

The Black Sea serves as a strategic buffer between Russiα and NATO. As a result, Russiαn dominance in the Black Sea region is a geostrategic need for Moscow, projecting Russiαn strength in the Mediterranean and securing trade access to crucial southern European markets.

Given its strategic importance, Ukrαine does not want the area to be controlled by Putin’s forces.