Russian attacks on Ukraine's coast threaten loss of key naval bases as well as critical shipbuilding facilities

by Manash Pratim Boruah & Prathamesh Karle & Kate Tringham

The Russian Navy's Bykov (Project 22160)-class corvette Vasily Bykov, one of two ships involved in the attack on Snake Island. (Michael Nitz/Naval Press Service)

Russian forces captured Zmiinyi (Snake) Island during the first day of its invasion of Ukraine, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine confirmed on 25 February.

The Ukrainian island is located in the Black Sea near the Danube Delta, about 70 n miles from Odessa, and plays an important role in delimiting Ukrainian territorial waters.

During the confrontation with Russia on 24 February, all 13 border guards defending the island were killed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message on 25 February.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence confirmed that the attacks on the island were carried out by air and sea, with the ships involved being the Slava (Project 1164)-class cruiser Moskva and the Bykov (Project 22160)-class corvette Vasily Bykov.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Navy continues to defend the southwestern part of the country's Black Sea coast, Ukrainian Armed Forces confirmed on 25 February. The forces are facing simultaneous attacks by Russian forces on the bases and ports of Odessa, Yuzhny, and Ochakiv. A Turkish-owned commercial vessel, Yasa Jupiter , was hit by a bomb off the coast of Odessa on 24 February while on its way to Romania, Turkey's General Directorate of Maritime Affairs stated on its social media account.

In a video message to Mykolaiv residents on 25 February, chairman of the Mykolaiv state regional administration Vitaly Kim said the region continues to defend itself and has not surrendered. At least four soldiers were wounded in explosions at the Ochakiv naval base in Mykolaiv region on 24 February, Kim said. Ochakiv is the headquarters of the navy's 5th Brigade of Surface Ships and was envisaged to be upgraded to host NATO and allied vessels during joint exercises.

In the Sea of Azov, Russia conducted missile strikes on the coastal town of Prymorskyi Posad in the Zaporizhizhia oblast on 25 February, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine stated on its social media account. An air defence base in Mariupol was also reportedly under Russian strikes on 24 February. Attacks have also been reported on 25 February in Berdyansk, the site of the Vostok naval base currently being constructed.

In addition to Moskva and Vasily Bykov , the Admiral Grigorovich-class Admiral Essen is also operating in the Black Sea. There are also 13 large Russian Navy landing ship tanks (LSTs) and another five smaller landing craft operating in the Black Sea region, some of which are in the Sea of Azov. In video footage posted by Ukrainian media outlet MyKerch on its VKontakte social media account on 21 February, more than 10 Russian Navy warships could be seen headed towards the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. The ships include the 184th Water Area Protection Brigade's Grisha-class corvette Eisk , the Bykov-class corvette Pavel Derzhavin , the 197th Landing Ship Brigade's (Project 775)-class landing ships Tsesar Kunikov and Novocherkassk , the Alligator (Project 1171)-class landing ship Saratov , the 41st Missile Ship Brigade's Tarantul (Project 12411)-class corvette Neberezhnye Chelny , and an unidentified tug heading north through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov on 21 February.

As of 15 February there are at least 19 Russian Navy ships in the Mediterranean, including the two Slava-class cruisers ( Varyag and Marshal Ustinov ), two Udaloy (Project 1155) destroyers ( Admiral Tributs and Vitse Admiral Kasatonov ), the Project 11356M frigate Admiral Grigorovich and the Admiral Gorshkov (Project 22350)-class frigate Admiral Kasatonov , a Buyan-M (Project 21631)-class corvette, two Kilo (Project 636)-class submarines (one confirmed as Krasnodar ), and other assorted vessels, including a minesweeper, an intelligence ship, tugs, and tankers.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg stated on 24 February that NATO had more than 120 allied ships “from the high north to the Mediterranean and more than 100 jets on high alert”, however, there are currently no NATO naval assets providing reinforcement in the Black Sea itself. For the past few weeks three NATO carrier strike groups (CSGs) have been operating in the Mediterranean Sea on exercises: the US Navy's Harry Truman CSG, the French Navy's Charles de Gaulle CSG, and the Italian Navy's Cavour CSG.

UDT 2024: Aselsan to start work on second Deringöz AUV variant

by Kate Tringham

A full-scale model of Aselsan's first Deringöz AUV under development on display at UDT 2024. The company is set to start work on a smaller version this year. (Janes/Kate Tringham)

Aselsan has outlined plans to start expanding its family of Deringöz autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) this year as the first prototype under development progresses through its trials programme.

Speaking to Janes at the Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) 2024 conference and exhibition in London on 9 April, an Aselsan spokesperson told that the first prototype is making good progress following the successful completion of its first diving test in early March, and the company was optimistic that the system would complete development in the first or second quarter of 2025.

The AUV will conduct further navigation and guidance testing during April before progressing to trials in deeper water in May, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the company is planning to start building a second, smaller version this year, which it aims to complete by 2026, according to the spokesperson. Aselsan is planning a family of three Deringöz AUVs in total, although no timeframe has yet been set for the development of the largest version.

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UDT 2024: Aselsan progresses development of mini Düfas towed active sonar system

by Kate Tringham

A scale model of the active array for the miniature version of Düfas on display at UDT 2024. (Janes/Kate Tringham)

Turkish manufacturer Aselsan is progressing development of a miniature version of its Düfas low-frequency towed active sonar system for unmanned surface vessels (USVs), which it expects to complete this year.

Speaking to Janes at the Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) 2024 conference and exhibition in London on 10 April, an Aselsan spokesperson said the company has been working on the smaller version, dubbed Düfas-M, since 2022.

The company is now progressing through tests of the individual hardware components, which it expects to complete in the coming months. Sea trials of the complete system integrated onboard a Marlin USV will start in the second half of 2024, with a view to completing development by year-end, he said.

Developed under the leadership of Türkiye's Defence Industry Agency (SSB) to meet the requirements of the Turkish Navy, Düfas is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare and surveillance.

Aselsan officially unveiled the full-scale version of Düfas for use on surface combatants in March 2024 following the successful completion of sea trials in late 2023.

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Navy League 2024: Findings from shipbuilding review spur US Navy secretary to seek foreign aid

by Michael Fabey

A recent US Navy shipbuilding review of carrier, submarine, and other major projects noted significant programmatic issues. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

Rocked by results of a recently completed shipbuilding study lambasting progress on new aircraft carriers, submarines and other major US Navy (USN) programmes, USN Secretary Carlos Del Toro is looking elsewhere for advice and examples to improve USN shipbuilding efforts.

“As the findings of the 45-day comprehensive shipbuilding review have underscored, too many of our industry partners are behind schedule and over budget on our highest priority programmes,” Del Toro said on 9 April during a keynote speech at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space 2024 global maritime exposition in National Harbor, Maryland.

For more information about the review, please seeUS Navy seeks to address major programme delays caused by shipbuilding's new normal of worker and supply shortages .

“We build the most capable warships in the world in shipyards that are decades behind the global technological standard,” Del Toro said. “This is an inefficient approach requiring far too much time, workforce, and taxpayers' dollars. It is certainly an approach that is wholly inadequate to pace our 21st century competitors.”

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