Ship Mine Underwater

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians, simulate the placement of an explosive on a submerged mine (U.S. Navy photo by Charles E. White)

Russia May Have Mined Ukrainian Waters Says NATO

John Konrad
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March 2, 2022

by John Konrad (gCaptain) NATO’s Allied Maritime Command today said there is a high risk of collateral damage on civilian shipping in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. They also warned that the Russian Navy may have mined parts of the Black Sea and Ukrainian waters.

NATO acknowledges media reports of civilian ships being hit directly or indirectly as a result of the acts of war in the northwestern Black Sea within Ukrainian territorial waters and adjacent international waters. They do not, however, provide any additional information on the source of these missile attacks.

Also read: Northern Black Sea Is Now A ‘Warlike Area’ As Navy Fails To Protect Shipping In NATO Waters by John Konrad

This report comes a few hours after gCaptain reported that the US Navy and NATO warships are notably absent from the Black Sea and NATO has not provided any advice to mariners operating in the Black Sea since the Russian Invasion started.

NATO OTAN Chart Of Ship Movement In the Black Sea Released 2 March 2020

The NATO update did not mention that ships owned by nato member countries are getting attacked. It also did not mention reports that the Russian Navy has boarded ships in Romanian – a NATO member – territorial waters. It did not provide any help to ships under attack beyond a promise to maintain vigilance and thoroughly document any incidents reported to NATO.

The report does not provide much practical advice for ships operating in the neighboring countries. It merely asks that captains “exercise caution and be on high alert in the area.”

Minesweepers Needed

In addition to missile attacks, NATO confirms the possibility that Russia is mining approaches to Ukraine. However, it does not tell ship captains how best to avoid mines. The US Navy and major NATO navies currently have no minesweepers in the Black Sea and it is not clear if any of the three of the Black Sea NATO member nations – Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey – have minesweeping capabilities.

Unlike naval surface warfare officers, commercial ship captains are not typically trained in mine warfare, avoiding or identifying mines, or repairing underwater damage to their ships after an explosion.

“A large number of navigation warnings have been issued, covering a number of warning areas, including mine danger areas, says today’s report. “Shipping is encouraged to stay well informed about these and keep well clear of the areas as well as warships and military crafts. It should always be taken into account that the situation may develop further during a voyage.”

Finally, the NATO report warned that the risk of GPS interference issues, AIS spoofing, other electronic interference, and cyberattacks in the area are still considered very high. 

“I am sure that the ships stuck in Odessa, Chornomorsk, Yuzhny, Mykolaiv, and Kherson are pretty aware of the situation.” said says Sal Mercogliano, author of Fourth Arm of Defense: Sealift and Maritime Logistics. “They must be aware considering they are blockaded in by the Russian Baltic Fleet, denied permission to leave by the Ukrainians, and have to worry about potential mines.”

Also read: U.S. Navy Left The Black Sea Unprotected Allowing Russia To Invade Ukraine

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