- Two target ships sought after in imagery
- Both shown to not be in Sevastopol Bay
- One turned up a day later
I was keen to know the location of two Russian navy ships that were operating in the vicinity of Sevastopol and the Black Sea region.
The first was Project 1164 Slava-class CGHM Moskva. From satellite imagery available on Sentinel, it was known she had arrived on or around 9 March 2022. She was still present in imagery available from 14 March 2022.
Moskva almost always ties up at the same location so is easy to locate when at the base. In Sentinel SAR imagery (and EO for that matter) you can also measure the length to help assist with the ID.
With the events taking place in the Black Sea, I thought 5 days was quite a long time to be at the base, so it was worth seeing if she was still there on the 15th – Sentinel imagery for that day wasn’t available at the time.
My second target was Project 22160 Bykov-class Corvette Vasily Bykov. If you’ve read my previous blogs, I didn’t believe she had been sunk, and even thought she was elsewhere in the the theatre of operations – possibly the Sea of Azov which I had been monitoring since the alleged “sinking”. This operating area is just a guess though. I’m sure we’ll never really find out.
Moreover, there had been rumours that Vasily Bykov was to always work with Moskva so if one was definitely in Sevastopol, based on the “rumours”, they both should be.
I also had a hunch, that if my guess about being elsewhere was correct, then maybe Vasily Bykov could have arrived anyway, regardless of being with Moskva or not. Having been out the same length of time, she must have needed resupplying as much as Moskva did.
I requested an image collection from Capella on the morning of 15 March 2022, and was lucky enough to get a pass that evening at 1826z, about seven hours after the request had gone in.
This revealed that both Moskva had departed, and that Vasily Bykov was not in.
Whilst this might be looked upon as negative, it isn’t. Intel is Intel. It was now known that Moskva was on her way somewhere and had been stocked up – as it turns out in imagery available later in Sentinel, to take part in operations east of Odessa.
It also showed that Vasily Bykov wasn’t operating with Moskva as per the rumours.
And, low and behold on 16 March 2022, Vasily Bykov did turn up at Sevastopol. A miracle one would say, bearing in mind it was supposed to have been sunk a few weeks earlier.
It wasn’t a bad guess she’d turn up – just 24 hours later than my hunch.
The Capella imagery also showed that there wasn’t much else in the bay. The southern area was empty bar one Kilo-class SSK.
The area next to Moskva‘s normal home was also pretty empty. Just one possible Project 1135M Krivak II-class FFM was present. The imagery for this is a little blurred due to the angle of the collection (44 degrees) and the sweep of the SAR itself. This places the ship almost on its side, but the profile does look like a Krivak-II.
If not, it is a Project 11356M Grigorovich-class FFGH – they are the same length, though the profile is slightly different due to the heli-deck.
This doesn’t appear to have the heli-deck and looks to be stepped down to the stern for accommodate the two AK-100 guns.
Regardless, the imagery from Capella was well timed. Whilst the areas out at sea were clear, over Sevastopol itself it was cloudy so EO wasn’t usable – Sentinel didn’t have any EO passes there anyway – and the Sentinel SAR is nowhere near as good as Capella’s.
Unfortunately, I have no collections available to me over Sevastopol today (16 March 2022) so I can’t see Vasily Bykov, and it looks like other ships are also returning – with Project 775 Ropucha-class LST Kondopoga reported to have arrived too.