OSINT Analysis: Russian Spetsnaz Attack Ukrainian Ships Using Western Gear
A video has surfaced on Russian social media which appears to show Russian Spetsnaz attacking Ukrainian targets. Some of the footage includes combat swimmers conducting a limpet mine attack. The video is dated, likely an amalgamation of attacks last year, and some of it may have been staged and/or training. But it provides useful insights into the under-reported combat swimmer aspects of the war.
As always, propaganda needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The diving footage in particular appears to be staged and/or in training. However analysis of what we see can still is still useful. This is a first-pass analysis, caveats apply.
Footage of the divers preparing to enter the water appears to show them wearing Italian supplied OMG/SIEL Caimano MK4 CDV Pro rebreathers. These were supplied before around the times of the Sochi Olympic Games and are known to be in Spetsnaz use. French rebreathes were also supplied.
The diver navigation panel appears to be the Russian Interspectech DON Mk 5. Interestingly the company Interspectech appear to have been involved in the acquisition of Italian rebreathers.
The diver propulsion devices (DPVs), aka diver scooters appear to be German made Bonex models. These are similar to those in use by several Special forces, including Germany's Kampfschwimmers. The DPVs may have been sourced via commercial routes and acquired indirectly.
Russian designs are generally very dated, originating in the Cold War. There has been more recent production of some basic types, but the higher performing ones rarely made it past experimentation. And the latest generation, in many respects copies of NATO designs such as Jet Boots, and Seacraft or Alseamar DPDs, do not appear to be in service.
The limpet mines shown, both out of the water and being placed under a ship, are Russian UPM (УПМ). This is a delay-fired weapon with an anti-removal device. It is attached by magnets or, for non-magnetic hulls, with straps. More info at the Collective Awareness To UXO website.
The footage of the divers placing a limpet mine is 'too good to be true' and, based on the lighting conditions and context, more likely training footage. That would be typical whether or not the attack took place.
The mine is 0.53m long and weighs 14.5 kg, including a 7 kg high-explosive warhead. It is designed to be attached to the diver's chest. However since the divers were using chest mounted rebreathers it would likely be on their back.
The overhead drone imagery featured in the video can be geolocated to Nikopolʹsʹkyy Richkovyy Port, Nikopol. This is Ukrainian held territory on the northern bank of the Dnipro River, approximately opposite the nuclear power station at Enerhodar. The footage was taken in 2022, when the trees were green and the water ice-free.
Analysis of Sentinel 2 satellite imagery shows that the red-decked ship (not the one circled) shown in the Russian drone footage arrived there between February 28 2022 and March 10 2022. It was not apparent in low-resolution imagery after August 24 2022.
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