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​Satellite Shows Two russian Submarines Semi-Submerged at Novorossiysk Base

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Kalibr missiles are loaded inside a russian submarine / Open-source illustrative photo
Kalibr missiles are loaded inside a russian submarine / Open-source illustrative photo

This could be a russian way to disguise or protect their submarines from Ukrainian strikes

Satellite imagery published by OSINT analyst MT_Anderson reveals two submarines partially submerged as they rest anchored at the Novorossiysk naval base in russia. The two vessels belong to the Project 636.6 class and can fire Kalibr cruise missiles; semi-submerged means only their sails and extendable devices above the water. The image is dated May 17th, 2024.

The specific location is the harbor of the russian Black Sea Fleet base in Novorossiysk, with access to the Black Sea. Unlike the base in Sevastopol, Novorossiysk is further from Ukraine-controlled territories yet still within reach of Ukrainian long-range strike capabilities which could be the key to explaining this unusual behavior.

Read more: ​russians Strengthen Naval Base in Novorossiysk
The two submarines semi-submerged, highlighted in the satellite photo / Defense Express / Satellite Shows Two russian Submarines Semi-Submerged at Novorossiysk Base
The two submarines semi-submerged, highlighted in the satellite photo / Image credit: MT_Anderson/Covert Shores

This is the first known instance in the war between Ukraine and russia when a submarine is stationed in such a state because it's generally very impractical, for example, it cannot be loaded with Kalibr missiles this way.

With a closer look at the sat photo, we can notice that the Kalibr-carrying submarines are half-submerged at their traditional mooring place. There's also at least one Project 22160 patrol ship with a Tor air defense missile system on its helipad. The russians commonly have such ships tasked with protecting their maritime connections from Ukrainian explosive unmanned surface vessels.

Considering the presence of this Project 22160 ship nearby, we can assume that taking their submarines underwater could be an additional insurance against naval drone strikes, or even against air-launched cruise missiles that navigate toward their target by searching the surface below for a matching radar signature.

/ Defense Express / Satellite Shows Two russian Submarines Semi-Submerged at Novorossiysk Base
The two submarines semi-submerged, general look at the harbor / Image credit: MT_Anderson/Covert Shores

On the other hand, even when submerged this way, the sails are still visible and thus can be used by Ukrainian operators, observing the surroundings through the FPV cameras, to direct their drone boats toward the approximate location of the submarine. If the hit lands, the underwater stance will only make the consequences more devastating to the vessel.

Another logical option here could be that the russians went for a kind of strategic camouflage: decided to submerge their submarines, counting on the premise that the satellite might not spot them.

Read more: ​Ukraine Destroys russian Kovrovets Vessel