False news on Russian Navy Ship “Vasily Bykov”


  • Social media states Russian navy ship sunk by Ukrainian MLRS
  • Evidence provided shows civilian merchant ship, not Russian vessel
  • Hopefully, the ship has been sunk, but more evidence is required
  • AIS data shows possible ship shown in media

This blog has now been replaced by Update on “False news on Vasily Bykov” but kept here for historical value.


It has been reported in social media that Russian Navy Project 22160 Corvette Vasily Bykov has been sunk by Ukrainian Forces using Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), having lured it into an area using other ships.

Whilst I’d like this to be the truth, unfortunately, if the images and video used are correct, it is in fact a merchant ship that has been sunk.

The probability of MLRS hitting a ship in this manner is extremely low. Other reports suggest it hit a mine, which is probably more likely.

Looking at AIS data on FleetMon, it looks like it is Estonian flagged Helt that has sunk and it is old imagery of this event on March 2nd 2022 that is now doing the circuit on Twitter.

Helt was operated by Estonian company VISTA Shipping Agency who reported that the ship had possibly hit a mine.

Ukrainian forces had previously reported the ship had been taken over by the Russian navy and was being used as a decoy.

Regardless of the actual events, the chances that it is Vasily Bykov in the imagery and video are remote. Whether the corvette has actually been sunk is another matter, and time will tell.

The data below from FleetMon shows that at 0504z on 2nd March 2022, Helt started moving to the NE. At 0540z the ship stopped moving, a brief at anchor message was sent, and then the ship started drifting at anchorage.

AIS data ceased at 0640z on 3rd March 2022. VISTA Shipping later reported that day that the ship had sunk with all crew rescued.

Further evidence is needed before any confirmation of the sinking of Vasily Bykov.