ua en ru

Sea Baby maritime drones - Ukraine produced drones for Black Sea strikes

Sea Baby maritime drones - Ukraine produced drones for Black Sea strikes Ukrainian fleet of marine drones prepares surprises for Russia in the Black Sea (Photo:

Ukraine has, for the first time, acknowledged its involvement in the July attack on the Crimean Bridge while also revealing unique maritime drones used for strikes in the Black Sea.

References to attacks by maritime drones date back to the autumn of 2022. On October 29, a coordinated strike targeted the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the occupied city of Sevastopol.

This marked the first maritime operation solely carried out by unmanned aircraft. Russia's participation in the grain trade was suspended due to this operation, though it resumed after a few days.

Despite Russian authorities denying losses, some reports indicated that several ships were hit, including the flagship "Admiral Makarov" (equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles) and the minesweeper "Ivan Golubets." Analysts at GeoConfirmed confirmed at least three ships were hit. According to their information, this massive attack involved 6 to 8 maritime drones.

Two weeks later, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy launched a campaign to raise funds for creating a fleet of 100 maritime drones. Since then, a series of operations have been conducted, but details were often undisclosed and shrouded in secrecy until now.

Experimental developments

In early August, kamikaze drones struck the Russian Black Sea Fleet base in Novorossiysk (Krasnodar Krai). The large landing ship "Olenegorskiy Gorniak" sustained damage in the hull. Prior to this, unmanned vessels had targeted the Crimean Bridge.

All these cases have one common factor - Ukrainian-made maritime drones targeted Russian objects.

In a CNN comment, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), Vasyly Maliuk, stated that these drones are a product of the intelligence agency.

"Sea surface drones are a unique invention of the Security Service of Ukraine," he said. "None of the private companies are involved. Using these drones, we have recently conducted a successful hit of the Crimean bridge, the big assault ship Olengorsky Gornyak and SIG tanker," he noted.

The attack on the tanker SIG in the Kerch Strait area, transporting fuel for the Russian military, is also referenced. The attack on the Novorossiysk base demonstrated that Ukrainian drones can cover several hundred kilometers. Essentially, there are no safe areas for Russians in the Black Sea.

"Sea Baby" for the Crimean Bridge

CNN also published a video of an experimental drone attack on the Crimean Bridge.

The video shows the operator's screen moments before the drone detonated concrete support. Surveillance camera footage displays the strike on a section of road and another on a railway track from the opposite direction.

The drones used for the attack are known as "Sea Baby." According to the head of the SSU, the name was proposed by the intelligence agency. These drones result from months of development work that began immediately after Russia's full-scale invasion.

Only limited specifications about the "Sea Baby" are known, besides being equipped with a 850 kg explosive payload.

Ukraine's Security Service sources also shared images of the maritime drones Sea Baby.

Vasyly Maliuk stated that preparations for the July operation took several months and involved the Ukrainian Naval Forces.

"We couldn't even think about sleep or food at the final stage. We were completely focused on the operation. The last days were quite nerve-racking. When the explosion occurred, we were elated and congratulated each other. It was a very emotional moment for all of us and a moment of celebration for our imminent victory," he added.

Ships attacked by smaller drones

According to the SSU, two separate surface drones were used to strike the large landing ship "Olenegorsky Gornyak" and the tanker SIG. These drones carried significantly smaller explosive payloads of around 450 kg.

However, the result is evident; at the very least, both ships have been hindered. "Olenegorsky Gornyak" sustained a breach of 4 by 3 meters, and its survival was mainly due to its location not being in open waters.

The tanker SIG suffered a two-meter breach on the starboard side, leading to flooding in the engine compartment, and it had to be towed to the shore.

Vasyl Maliuk notes that all targeted objectives are lawful according to both Ukrainian laws and international norms.

"We approach each maritime special operation prudently. Essentially, we measure seven times and cut once. But we do it swiftly and flexibly. We strike the enemy right in the heart," he added.

Specialized portal DefenseExpress stated that using unmanned vessels equipped with a 450 kg warhead signifies that Ukrainian experts have managed to create an optimal variant ensuring critical damage upon impact. Hence, this variant might become a primary choice for future attacks.

What's known about production?

For security reasons, there are few details available in this regard. According to Vasyl Maliuk, the development and manufacturing process is managed by a team within the SSU, supported by civilian engineers and IT specialists.

"The production of our drones takes place in one of the underground facilities within Ukraine," he mentioned.

According to him, Western partners are interested and intend to adopt the Ukrainian experience. However, they do not participate in operations or provide Ukraine with either drone production equipment or anything else.

Using the Example of MAGURA

At the end of July, Ukraine unveiled its latest development, the MAGURA V5 drone, at an arms exhibition in Turkey. The name simultaneously serves as an abbreviation (in English - Maritime Autonomous Guard Unmanned Robotic Apparatus). It refers to the name of the winged daughter of the Slavic god Perun in Slavic mythology. Magura's purpose is to protect and inspire warriors.

Sea Baby maritime drones - Ukraine produced drones for Black Sea strikes
Ukrainian maritime drone MAGURA V5 (Photo:

A few days later, a report about maritime drones was featured on the same American CNN channel. They looked exactly like MAGURA V5 marine drones.

As recounted by Ukrainian military personnel, the MAGURA drones have already been employed for strikes on Russian targets in the Black Sea. Indeed, their specified characteristics provide some insight into the Ukrainian fleet of surface drones:

  • Length: 5.5 meters
  • Width: 1.5 meters
  • Height above the waterline: 500 mm
  • Cruising speed: 22 knots (40 km/h)
  • Maximum speed: 42 knots (78 km/h)
  • Range: 450 nautical miles (approximately 833 km)
  • Payload capacity: 320 kg
  • Communication: Mesh radio with aerial relay or satellite

Another advantage is the lack of complex infrastructure for launch and control. The control panel is relatively compact, about the size of a laptop, and only a few individuals, including the operator, are needed for maintenance. According to preliminary data, the MAGURA marine drones can operate in small formations with three units: two standard ones and one with equipment.

According to the company "Spetstehnoexport," these drones can perform various operations, ranging from surveillance and patrol to combat tasks. An August video from the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense confirms this.

The Ukrainian forces will not halt their public discourse regarding maritime drones. The Head of the SSU, Vasyly Maliuk, hints at this.
"Today, we are involved in various interesting operations, particularly in the waters of the Black Sea, under development and implementation. I promise this will be a surprise, especially for our adversaries," he emphasizes.