Within weeks of receiving Harpoon shore-based anti-ship missiles from Denmark, Ukraine appears to have been using them to good effect. Ukraine’s defense forces tweeted today that the Russian Navy tug Spasatel Vasily Bekh had been “successfully demilitarized” by the Ukrainian Navy.
Drone footage posted on YouTube shows what appear to be two missile strikes on the Russian Navy tug. According to Ukrainian reports the vessel was en route to Snake Island carrying supplies that included ammunition and was hit by two Harpoon missiles.
Other reports suggest that it and other Black Sea fleet ships had been fitted with TOR air defense systems following the sinking of the Black Sea fleet flag ship Moskva by Neptune missiles.
Ironically, the Spasatel Vasily Bekh is most likely one of the tugs sent to assist the Moskva.
The Spasatel Vasily Bekh (SB-739) is officially classed as a Project 22870 “rescue tug.” It was laid down at the Zvezdochka Shipyard, Astrakhan (yard No.008), launched August 2, 2016, and commissioned January 16, 2017.
Expect confirmation of whether it was sunk, or extensively damaged, to emerge in the next several days.