Ukraine Reports Loss of U.S.-Built Patrol Boat by Russian Missile
A U.S.-built patrol boat that had been transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the Ukrainian Navy as part of the efforts to build up its sea forces is reported to be among the causalities. In 2018, the then 30-year-old vessel was transferred to Ukraine along with another vessel from the Island Class as part of five vessels sent from the United States to Ukraine to increase the country’s naval defenses.
The patrol boat named Sloviansk was lost according to the mayor of the port city of Yuzhny, located west of Odesa, during reconnaissance and protection missions for the ports of Odesa and to the south in the Black Sea. Several sailors, or possibly the entire crew aboard, are reported missing. The vessel is believed to have been sunk, possibly as early as March 3, as Russia was preparing for the expected amphibious assault on Odesa. Russian forces were believed to be targeting possible opposition that could attack during the landing, which now appears to have been postponed.
“An airstrike by an enemy aircraft of the Russian Federation on the patrol boat Sloviansk was inflicted. The patrol boat sank as a result of an air-to-ground cruise missile,” said Volodymyr Novatsky expressing condolences to the families of the victims.
It is believed that this is the first confirmed loss in combat of a ship of the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The fate of the other Island Class patrol boats is unknown.
Sloviansk on maneuvers with the Ukraine Navy
Built at the Bollinger Shipyard in Lockport, Louisiana, the 110-foot long patrol boat was commissioned in 1988 as the USCGC Cushing as part of the Coast Guard’s Island Class. The U.S. announced the gift of the Cushing and her sister ship the Drummond to Ukraine in 2018 followed by two additional sister ships in 2021 and one this year. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. provided the boats to Ukraine along with equipment and training. Ukraine arranged for the vessels to be transported from the United States to the Black Sea and took responsibility for the maintenance and operation.
The powerful boats were reported to have a top speed of over 30 knots and a range of more than 9,900 nautical miles. The Cushing spent much of her career stationed in North Carolina, while the Drummond was stationed in Florida, first in Port Canaveral and later Miami, and Key West. One of her primary roles had been to patrol the Florida Straits during which she intercepted both Cuban and Haitian migrants attempting to make the passage to Florida.
The loss of the patrol ship comes as another blow to the small Ukrainian Navy. Days earlier the Navy also announced the loss of its flagship, although it said that was a conscious decision to prevent the vessel from falling into Russian hands. The 3,100 ton frigate Hetman Sahaidachny, was reportedly scuttled while it was under repairs in the port city of Mykolaiv.
Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksiy Reznikov reported ordering the scuttling of the frigate, saying it was a “tough decision for a brave warrior and the whole team. We will build a new fleet, modern and powerful. The main thing now is to resist,” he added.
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