Floating Naval Mine Explodes on a Beach in Georgia
After a storm over the Black Sea, Ukraine’s military has warned coastal communities near Odesa of the risk of drifting naval mines. The warning comes shortly after the detonation of a contact mine on a public beach in Batumi, Georgia’s second-largest city.
Floating Soviet-era YaM-type mines have been a persistent hazard to navigation in the western Black Sea since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, and the Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish navies have identified and neutralized dozens in their respective waters.
To date, the Black Sea’s littoral states have destroyed about 40 sea mines since February 2022. So far, the region’s merchant shipping has successfully avoided contact with drifting mines, thanks in part to heightened awareness and redoubled lookout guidelines.
Another set of anchored mines along the coastline may have recently been set loose by heavy weather, according to Ukraine.
“There is a high probability of naval mines breaking off their anchors and washing up on the shore, as well as drifting along the coast,” cautioned Odesa military administration spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk in a social media message.
At least one drifting mine recently made its way east to the coast of Georgia, far away from the area where the hazard has been previously encountered. On Monday, a contact mine floated into the surf zone at a beach in Batumi, where it exploded, according to local officials and bystander accounts. No injuries or material damage were reported. The source of the mine was not determined, but both Ukraine and Russia have deployed anchored contact mines in coastal areas to deter attacks.