On March 19, the Russian FSB Public Relations Center said that the situation is ‘developing uncontrollably’ as rouge Ukrainian Sea mines can drift towards the Bosphorus, the Marmara, and the Mediterranean Sea. Some of these mines have been modified with timers and self-destruct mechanisms.
The Ukrainian naval mines were torn off the mounts as per the FSB. The Ukrainian Navy had previously decided to install these mines on the approaches to several ports, including Odesa, Ochakov and Chernomorsk, “to deter Russian ships.” But as a result of a storm on the Black Sea, the cables broke, and the sea mines went “into free swimming,” said the FSB.
“More than 420 obsolete sea mines are now in the open sea. These are YaM anchor mines and YaRM anchor river mines. They were made over 70 years ago. The cables that held them at anchor broke off, as already mentioned, during heavy seas. This says only one thing – the Ukrainian Navy laid mines, the service life of which had long expired,” said the release.
The prevailing southerly currents can gradually carry these mines to the open sea, and in particular to the Bosporus, a fairly busy shipping area.
As per the Russian hydrographers, there are several strong currents in the Black Sea. One of them goes from the coast of Turkey in the direction of Crimea. From there, it gets divided into western and eastern currents. The western course moves towards Odesa and then along the coast of Romania, Bulgaria, to the Turkish Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.
There is a risk of Ukrainian mines drifting towards the Bosphorus and their spontaneous explosions during a storm in such a situation. The currents in this part of the Black Sea are such that the probability of drifting towards the Bosphorus is very high, says the FSB release.
“Accordingly, this carries significant risks for navigation in the Black Sea area,” adds the release.
It is suspected that Estonian cargo ship Helt had hit a mine before sinking. The ship belonging to the Estonian company, Vista Shipping Agency AS, sank near Odesa. All six crew were saved. It is not reported what kind of cargo the ship was carrying and what caused its crash.
Ukraine has not officially refuted the incident. But, a person from the Black Sea Institute for Strategic Studies, editor-in-chief of BlackSeaNews, Andriy Klymenko, writes, “the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation mined the routes of commercial vessels from the Bosphorus in the direction of Odesa, and all this is covered by a fake about “Ukrainian mines destroyed by a storm.”
YaM and YaRM mines
YaM anchor mines mine weighs 172 kg with 20 kg explosives. Antiamphibious mine YARM mines are very easy to use and can be used by even unskilled miners. It is used in lakes and slow flowing rivers. It is designed to disable enemy watercraft. It weighs 13 kg with 3 kgs explosives. Both these mines were designed during the Soviet Union era. The YaM mine was specifically meant for use in the Gulf of Finland.