Ukraine will build the world’s first fleet of naval drones

The campaign is called United24, and it has the support of the nation's president.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Naval drones
Naval drones

United24 

Ukraine is calling for support in a new campaign to crowd-fund a fleet of domestically built sea drones like the ones used in a late October attack on Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea.

Soliciting donations

The campaign is called “United24” and it aims to solicit donations to build 100 naval drones that cost about US $250,000 a piece. It currently has the support of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Since February 24, the Russian army has launched more than 4,500 missiles at Ukraine. 20% of them came from the sea,” reads the campaign's website.

“Ukraine had nothing to oppose these ships, because the Ukrainian fleet lost 80% of its vessels after the occupation of Crimea in 2014. But, on October 29, 2022, naval drones hit Russian ships, was carried out exclusively by unmanned devices.”

The website goes on to describe how the attack managed to damage three Russian vessels, including the Admiral Makarov, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The event also marked the first case in history where the attack was carried out exclusively by unmanned vessels.

“The result of this daring operation was incredible - Russia has lost its undeniable advantage on the water. The killers of Ukrainian civilians — warships armed with missiles — became targets themselves,” continues the site.

“Today, Ukraine starts assembling the world’s first Naval Fleet of Drones!” 

Named Kherson

The Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Federov said the first drone vessels will be named Kherson.

These powerful drones have a vessel length of 5,5 meters and a full weight of up to 1000 kg, including up to 200 kg of payload. They can reach top speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) with a total range of 800 km (about 500 miles). They also boast video transmission that allows up to 3 HD video streams to control the drone and are compatible with both manual and automatic navigation.

The site goes on to say that the new drones “will defend the waters of our seas, stop Russian ships carrying missiles from leaving the bay, protect merchant ships, and perform secret missions.”

“Drones can participate in long-range maritime reconnaissance and coastal surveillance, escorting and supporting the traditional fleet, convoying merchant ships, zoning in artillery fire, defending our bases and countering amphibious operations,” concludes the website. 

It’s hard to tell whether the new drones will give Ukrainian forces the tactical advantage they need to win their war but there’s no doubt the drones provide a powerful asset to the Ukrainian military forces. 

“It will protect the waters of Ukrainian seas and also peaceful cities from cruise missiles launched by Russian forces from their ships. It will unblock a corridor for civilian vessels that carry grain for the whole world,” further states the crowdfunding campaign. Now we just have to wait and see whether the world will respond and come to the aid of the small but mighty nation.

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