A MYSTERIOUS vessel widely believed to be a Ukrainian suicide drone has washed up near to a Russian naval base.
The vessel was found in Omega Bay, by the port of Sevastopol, which is home to Vladimir Putin's Black Sea fleet.
The drone is thought to be among several donated to Ukraine by the United States in bid to help turn the tables on the large Russian navy.
How it came to rest on the rocks at Omega Bay remains a mystery but it remains intact suggesting a mechanical failure.
While the inside is not pictured, submarine expert H.I Sutton believes its “curved shaping, with external reinforcing, suggests a warhead”.
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“Going further, a theory is that this device is designed to ram another vessel and detonate, like a modern interpretation of an explosive boat,” he writes in Naval News.
“This also explains the cluster of sensors at the bow.”
He said the vessel “appears to have slipped past Russian Navy patrol boats”.
Sutton described the drone “as small but purposeful” and is powered by a single motor, mounted inboard, driving a steerable waterjet.
“This suggests relatively high performance, it is made for speed,” he added.
“And such a small vessel, about the size of a kayak, would likely have a very small radar signature.”
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Sevastopol was targeted by Ukrainian aerial drones in August with huge plumes of black smoke rising from the base as tourists watched on in horror,
It's understood the naval HQ suffered a direct hit as a drone exploded on the roof.
The Russians have claimed the vessel was destroyed after being captured, though explanation is thought unlikely unless its intelligence services already know.
Ukrainian special operators are known to be conducting waterborne raids in southern Ukraine so the vessel could have been on a surveillance mission when washed ashore, reports The Drive.
What were described as “unmanned coastal defence vessels" were part of a military aid package for Ukraine the Pentagon announced in April.
"It's an unmanned surface vessel that can be used for a variety of purposes in coastal defence,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at the time.
“I think I'll just leave it at that.”
Throughout the war, Ukrainian fighters have been using relatively cheap drones to cause havoc with Russia.