Russia had implemented a system of boom defenses and barges at Sevastopol to counteract Ukrainian "uncrewed" surface vessel (USV) attacks and other forms of naval infiltration aimed at Vladimir Putin's Black Sea fleet.
Boom defenses, a series of obstacles strung across a navigable waterway, were employed to prevent anything from passing through.
However, intense storms led to the disruption of these defenses, as reported by The War Zone, citing Planet Labs satellite images. The lines of booms and barges were observed to be in serious distress, rendering the valuable naval fleet susceptible to attacks from Ukraine.
Sevastopol, being the primary Russian naval base in the occupied Crimean peninsula, presents a significant target, as an effective attack could severely cripple the Russian navy.
A video circulating online appears to depict a maritime accident involving three Russian vessels colliding with each other, Newsweek reported.
Referred to as a "massive maritime accident" by the Russian Telegram channel Shot and dubbed the "storm of the century" by other Russian media outlets, the incident involved the Russian ship Matros Shevchenko colliding with Matros Pozynich, and both subsequently hitting the anchored vessel Kavkaz-5.
Only minor damage was reported, and the incident avoided fuel spills and water pollution, sources said.
Putin has utilized the Black Sea fleet to control shipping lanes and impact Ukrainian import-export infrastructure, along with launching missile attacks on Ukraine.
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The War Zone reported that Russia had deployed a three-tiered defense system at Sevastopol, protecting the sea, shore and airspace above it. This system included barriers and nets to disrupt attacks on and below the water's surface, kinetic systems along seawalls and various aircraft and boats patrolling the area.
The storm also affected the confinement areas housing Russian military-trained bottlenose dolphins, with satellite imagery suggesting significant damage.
Naval expert H.I. Sutton speculates that the dolphin pens may have been entirely decimated, although there is a possibility they were relocated before the storm, officials said.
In response to the situation, Russian occupation officials in Crimea declared a state of emergency in the region. The War Zone reported ongoing construction work to restore civilian infrastructure, but there has been no official update on the current state of naval defenses in Sevastopol.
According to the Associated Press, the storm left around half a million people without power and flooded coastal areas of southern Russia and Ukraine.
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