Michael Kofman on the incident where a Russian coastguard vessel rammed a Ukrainian tug close to the Kerch Strait earlier this week:
On approach they twice radioed the Russian FSB Border Guard of their intention, but did not receive a response confirming passage. Upon arriving at the strait they were told the waterway was closed for security reasons, though no international notice of closure was filed by Russia, i.e. it was closed just for Ukraine’s small trio of boats. Then Russia’s coast guard ordered them to cut engines. A series of maneuvers ensued outside the strait.
One of Russia’s larger patrol ships, the Don, struck Ukraine’s tugboat (which actually appeared to cut engines and sit still)
Then he struck his flanking partner, the Rubin-class patrol ship Izumrud. Russia’s border guard service didn’t upload any videos of this one, but we will have to imagine what it looked like on the basis of the hull damage.
Someone hit him really high, about the height of the Don patrol ship.
I did not notice that the two Russian ships collided. Judging by the photos on Kofman’s blog, Izumrud was hit hard.
It does seem likely that this could happen. The video that Russia has released of the collision with the Ukrainian tug hints at poor control. The directions from the commanding officer are sloppy. He changes orders in rapid pace, which is silly because the ship can’t respond that quickly. At one point he seems unaware that the rudder is already hard to port, and at another he orders the engine astern without stating how much. And some of his commands are not about ship controls at all but formulated as intended outcomes like “press him from starboard”. So even without all the cursing, this is far from a textbook example of how to run a bridge crew.