Thunderous detonations shook Sevastopol on the morning of October 16, coming from a military exercise by the Black Sea Fleet that activated its missile launchers, causing alarm among citizens.
Sevastopol found itself at the epicenter of a deafening military exercise on the morning of October 16, when Russia’s Black Sea Fleet carried out an operation that involved the active use of its missile launchers. At 8:30 a.m. (local time), residents woke up to the sound of loud explosions, a manifestation of the fleet’s firepower, which is not directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine.
Mikhail Razvozhaev, governor of Sevastopol, reported via his Telegram channel that these alarming noises were not cause for panic but part of a planned drill. According to his statement, everything was under control, and daily life in Sevastopol continued undisturbed, despite the initial uproar.
On October 15, a day earlier, residents had been warned about possible noise disturbances due to underwater anti-sabotage exercises, the acoustic repercussions of which were felt especially in the North Pier area. This activity followed a series of maneuvers carried out on 13 October, which also involved emergency protocols and search and rescue procedures in the Black Sea.
During the October 13 drill, unfounded rumors circulated around Sevastopol. Various Ukrainian media and other sources spread uncorroborated information about an alleged Russian warship accident. Local authorities quickly denied these reports, labeling them “fake news.”
Through an official statement, the Black Sea Fleet confirmed that the noises coming from the North Pier were part of the scheduled exercises. The participation of anti-sabotage and defensive units against underwater threats and unmanned drones was highlighted. Razvozhaev reiterated these points on Telegram, noting that intensive practices for crews were underway.
In parallel, Ukrainian media reports linked the October 13 explosions to fictitious damage to the Pavel Derzhavin, a Russian ship, alleging that secret Ukrainian underwater drones caused them. Although such claims indicated that both the Buyan and the Pavel Derzhavin had been attacked by a Ukrainian experimental drone known as a “sea baby,” Russian authorities did not confirm any damage to the Pavel Derzhavin.
Only Ukrainian voices maintain that Pavel Derzhavin was hit amid these conflicting narratives. Pletenchuk, in an interview with Radio Svoboda, part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was cautious and did not provide additional details about the incident, although he stated: “You are the first one to whom I have officially confirmed today that he was harmed.”
The warships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet are equipped with various missiles. Among them is the Kalibr cruise missile, capable of hitting land and sea targets up to 2,500 kilometers away and launchable from sea and submarine units. In addition, they carry the Oniks supersonic anti-ship missile, with a range of 500 kilometers, designed to incapacitate adversary vessels.
They also have the Shtil-1 surface-to-air missile, used for defense against aerial threats, covering distances of up to 50 kilometers. Additionally, they are armed with Kh-35 anti-ship missiles, with an effective range of 130 kilometers, known for their precision and lethality.
In the current context, the Black Sea Fleet exercises highlight the strategic importance of Sevastopol. Amid tensions with Ukraine, the port city and the fleet play a crucial role in shows of force and defense of the Black Sea.
Although the detonations caused initial alarm, residents of Sevastopol should be assured that these activities are routine and necessary to maintain the competence and readiness of Russian naval forces. These drills are vital to testing and improving the efficiency of missile systems, offering crews realistic training and opportunities to hone their skills in a controlled environment.