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What Is the Sea Baby, Ukraine’s Experimental Sea Drone Hitting Russia’s Navy

  • Ukraine intelligence officials claim that an experimental sea drone hit two Russian military ships.
  • The drone has been dubbed the “Sea Baby,” an invention of Ukraine’s security services.
  •  It can carry more than 1,850 pounds of explosives, Ukraine claims.

The sea drone that has been curiously dubbed with a benign and endearing name is responsible for another attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet near occupied Crimea, Ukraine intelligence officials claimed Friday.

A missile carrier and a patrol boat were damaged, the Ukrainian officials said Friday, according to The Washington Post.

The drone is called the “Sea Baby,” which officials in Ukraine have now claimed is behind at least three covert drone operations against Russia.

The first was in July, when the drone damaged the Kerch Bridge, a key route for Russia’s supply line, and killed two civilians. The Security Service of Ukraine, the country’s intelligence agency, revealed to CNN how it used the remote vehicle to strike the bridge.

Around mid-September Ukrainian sources said that the sea drone attacked a small Russian missile ship that was part of the Black Sea Fleet. Russia’s defense ministry claimed that it repelled the attack and destroyed the drone.

Now, the Sea Baby’s most recent strike against Russia’s naval fleet could put a strain on its repair facilities, experts told Insider.

Here’s what has been claimed about the sea drone:

It’s an ‘experimental’ invention of Ukraine’s intelligence agency, per officials

A gray surface sea drone emblazoned with the word "SeaBaby" on the side.

Sea Baby

Security Service of Ukraine via Reuters

The Sea Baby was solely developed by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Vasyl Maliuk, who leads the agency, told CNN.

“None of the private companies are involved,” he said.

The drone’s development began just after Russia invaded Ukraine last February and took months to complete, according to Maliuk.

Some of Ukraine’s Western partners have expressed interest in its drone operations, he told CNN, adding that “they do not participate in our operations or provide us with any equipment or anything else.”

“These drones are produced at an underground production facility at the territory of Ukraine,” he said.

It has carried more than 1,850 pounds of explosives.

When Ukrainian forces carried out the attack on the Kerch Bridge in July, the Sea Baby carried up to 850 kg, or approximately 1,874 pounds, of explosives, Maliuk said.

It’s unclear if that’s the carrying capacity of the drone.

For comparison, another sea drone that Ukraine unveiled in July was said to be able to carry up to 300 kg or roughly 661 pounds of explosives.

Smaller aerial drones typically carry warheads weighing 2 to 3 kg or 4 to 6 pounds.

The Sea Baby can withstand stormy weather

The experimental sea drone is able to operate in stormy conditions and hide behind high waves to avoid detection, according to New Voice, an independent digital news outlet based in Kyiv.

The drone travels on the surface of the water, footage Ukrainian security services shared with CNN showed.

It can provide the drone’s operator with thermal imagery up until impact, the footage showed.

It’s one of many self-destructing drones Ukraine relies on

Drones have been a key part of Ukraine’s arsenal during the war.

A lot of the drones used are cheap (plastic or plastic foam) aerial drones that are often sold to hobbyists. But attached with deadly explosives, these budget drones that cost a few hundred dollars to make can destroy Russian equipment that costs millions of dollars, one soldier told The New York Times.

Other drones such as those that can operate in the water can be costlier to build and can perform more complex operations.

One video from a volunteer group, Ammo Ukraine, claimed to show a $433,000 underwater drone called Marichka that has a range of more than 600 miles and can take on reconnaissance missions or strike targets. One Ukrainian news outlet reported that it has a 200-kg explosive payload.

The other sea drone that Ukraine developed, with a 300-kg payload, can hit targets 500 miles away, CNN reported.

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