Small Wars Journal


Fri, 04/29/2022 - 2:54pm


By Chuck de Caro


While the Ukrainian Army and Air Force are drawing most of Vladimir Putin’s attention, this might be an auspicious time for the Ukrainian Navy to strike again against the Russian Navy, via surprise attacks against the Russian surface ship base at Sevastopol  and the Russian submarine base at Novorossiysk, 165 and 468 miles, respectively, from the Ukrainian port of Odessa.


The Ukrainian offensive would have the same traits as the battles of the Nile, Copenhagen, Tripoli, Port Arthur, Taranto, and Pearl Harbor:  surprise the enemy in his home port with maximum firepower and aggressiveness.


            If the Russians can be defeated in the Black Sea, they cannot be reinforced, because Turkey has closed the Dardanelle Straits, the only access from the Mediterranean. Vladimir Putin would be made the fool by the Ukrainians, again.  Moreover, crippling the Russian fleet would leave the entire Russian Army’s left flank---the much desired land bridge to the Crimea---wide open to seaborne attacks.


            While the Ukrainian Navy is not large, there are three brand new US-made Mark-VI

 patrol boats and another nine in the pipeline, ordered before the outbreak of war, but apparently not yet in Ukrainian hands.


            To hasten the process,  why not transfer the twelve existing US Navy Mark-VI’s, which the Navy does not seem to want, and give the Ukrainians a shot at sinking more Russians?


The problem with delivery is compounded by Turkey’s closure, as mentioned, of the Dardenelle Straights.


So why not transport the existing twelve US Navy MK-VI’s to Rotterdam and have them travel to Romania via the Trans-Euro canal system? After all, Mark-VI’s are only 84.8 feet long, 20.5 feet in beam, with a draft of only 4 feet.


The US crews could train the Ukrainian crews during the two-week transit. 


Upon reaching Medgidia, Romania, the US crews should furl the national colors and turn the Mark-VI’s over to the Ukrainians.


Historically, that is exactly what the US Navy (via the OSS) did for Norway in WWII. US seamen sailed three SC-497 Class subchasers to the “Luna” base in the Shetlands and transferred them to the Norwegian government-in-exile, to support “Shetland Bus” resistance organizations.

(They were  Subchasers SC-683, renamed HNoMS Hessa; SC-718, renamed HNoMS Hitra; SC-1061, renamed HNoMS Vigra). 


In contemporary Ukraine, when the MK-VI’s reach port in Odessa, they should then armed with two racks of eight AGM-176C Sea Griffin missiles along with as many that can be stored aboard.


This is not new. The US Navy was busy firing the same-diameter five-inch rockets from PT boats in WWII .

Only back then, the rockets were unguided. The Sea Griffin has both GPS and semi-active laser guidance, which means that with a shipboard laser designator, the MK VI’s can send a 13-pound warhead right through a Russian Captain’s windshield…Or his cannon ammunition in ready lockers… Or his on-deck missile arrays.


Armed as above, a force of MK-VI’s, supported by drone feints and electronic countermeasures, could approach Sebastopol at night, just behind a storm front, where their small size would conceal them in the radar clutter of an agitated sea.  Once in range, the force could ripple-launch their missiles at ships, fuel facilities and ammo dumps, dropping a few of the new CDMs (Clandestine Delivered Mines) as a going away present for any Russian reinforcements or counterattacking forces.


Seizing Russian Submarines


The Russians have one Kilo class and six Improved Kilo Class diesel electric submarines assigned to the Black Sea Fleet and operating out of Novorossiysk.


At present, all around the Black Sea are all manner of NATO aircraft operating over friendly territory or international waters, with such notables as the U-2 Dragon Lady, E-3 AWACS, P-3 Orion, P-8 Poseidon and RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV that are monitoring everything moving, radiating, or standing still.


Should information about a snorkeling Russian submarine be made available to one or more Mark-VI’s, there opens the possibility to disable and capture that Russian submarine.


Given that the head valve on the top of the snorkel---which is designed to prevent water from entering a sub---is about one meter across it was a difficult target for radar to find when it was first used in WWII.  That is no longer so.


It was also nearly impossible to hit with naval gunfire.


But not for a salvo of laser guided Sea Griffins shot from a MK-VI. Given that the MK-VI is powered by water jets and not propellors, it can idle along without much noise. If it were to quietly come into range of a snorkeling submarine at night, it could laser-designate and hit the one-meter-wide snorkel head.


The sub would then be forced to surface, because with the head valve blown away the seawater pouring in would sink it in short order.


The Mark-VI’s could then throttle up their 5,200 horsepower water jets and charge in at 45 knots, blasting the hell out of the surfacing submarine with 25 millimeter armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding-sabot ammunition at 900 rounds a minute.  As the sub’s bridge is swept clean, boarding parties armed with tear gas and flash-bang grenades and automatic weapons would open the hatches and hose everybody before the crew could scuttle the sub.


The prize: One sub, crypto (think Enigma in WWII), and perhaps supercavitating nuclear torpedoes...which, upon capture, would make Ukraine a de facto nuclear super power once more.


Try explaining that one to Putin.

About the Author(s)

Chuck de Caro is an information warfare consultant and contributing-author of the Cyberwar series of textbooks used by US and Allied war colleges. He has taught at the National Defense University and the National Intelligence University, where he continues to lecture on SOFTWAR. He was educated at Marion Military Institute, The US Air Force Academy and the University of Rhode Island. He served with the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and was later an outside researcher for the Office of Net Assessment, where he became the progenitor of the world’s first prototype virtual military organization called The 1st Joint SOFTWAR Unit (Virtual).