Ukrainian Navy Gyurza-M-class armored gunboat
Ukrainian Navy Gyurza-M-class armored gunboat

Russia to Guard Berdyansk and Mariupol Ports with Ukrainian Navy’s Armored Gunboats

Several armored gunboats that had been in service with the Ukrainian Navy and were seized as trophies during the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. One of options is to use them to guard the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol when their technical condition is restored. Currently, work is under way to ensure their operative compatibility. It is yet unknown whether the vessels will continue their service with maritime units of the Russian border guards or with the Black Sea Fleet. Russia’s official news agency Tass reported that they was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Before the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Navy had about 25 warships in service, including five patrol boats and six gunboats, as well as the Svatove small landing craft and the Gola Pristan anti-sabotage boat. Also, the Ukrainian navy has up to 9 Gyurza/Gyurza-M armored gunboats, one of them was abandoned by its crew in Berdyansk. The headquarters of the Ukrainian Naval Forces was, until the 2014 Crimean crisis, located at Sevastopol in Crimea. The naval forces were highly affected by the Crimean crisis, as the majority of their units were stationed there.

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Ukrainian patrol vessel Starobilsk
Ukrainian Navy patrol vessel Starobilsk (Ex U U.S. Coast Guard SCGC Drummond)

Ships that did not escape or were not deployed at the time lowered their flags and were interned. Russia began a process of returning the vessels but stopped, citing the inability of Ukraine to retake possession and alleged violence against Russians in the Donbas. The ships that were returned were the older models of the fleet which were deemed obsolete. For example, Russia chose not to return the corvettes Ternopil and Lutsk, both of which were some of the newest ships of the Ukrainian fleet. However, none of the Ukrainian naval units retained were absorbed into the Russian Navy.

On 3 March, 2022, it was reported that the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny was scuttled in the port of Mykolaiv to prevent its capture by Russian forces. On the same day the patrol boat Slavyansk was sunk by an anti-ship missile of Russian naval aviation. On March 14, the Russian Armed Forces had captured about a dozen Ukrainian ships in Berdyansk. The vessels reported as captured included two Gyurza-M-class artillery vessels, the Matka-class missile boat Pryluky, a Project 1124P (Grisha II)-class corvette ,[61] a Zhuk-class patrol boat, a Yevgenya-class minesweeper, the Polnocny-class landing ship Yuri Olefirenko and a Ondatra-class landing craft.

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