The flagship of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, the Project 1164 Slava class cruiser Moskva, suffered heavy damage while sailing in the Black Sea yesterday, with its 510-crew forced to evacuate. The Russian Ministry of Defense acknowledged that the ammunition aboard the ship exploded after a fire broke out but did not disclose the exact causes of the fire.
Meanwhile, Ukraine claimed the responsibility of the damage to the Moskva. In fact, Maxim Marchenko, the state regional administrator of Odessa wrote on his Telegram channel that Ukrainian border guards had struck the vessel with two Neptune anti-ship missiles. Some sources claimed that a Bayraktar TB2 UCAV was used as a bait to distract the cruiser’s defenses as the Neptune missile were launched, while others rightfully argued that it might have been used instead for targeting. Either way, if a TB2 was really on scene, some video feed showing what happen might eventually pop up online.
This would be a huge morale and propaganda boost for the Ukrainians non only because the Moskva is the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, but also because this is the same ship from the famous Snake Island incident, when soldiers were recorded telling the Russian warship to “go f*** itself” before being bombarded. The warship is a “symbol of Russian naval power in the Black Sea,” Michael Petersen of the Russia Maritime Studies Institute told to BBC reporters. “The Moskva has been a thorn in the side of the Ukrainians since the beginning of this conflict. To see it damaged so badly…I think is going to be a real morale boost to the Ukrainians.”
Some sources also claimed that, following the explosion, the Moskva rolled on its side and sunk. However, in the morning on Apr. 14, Russian state media said that the fire has been contained and that the ship is now being towed to the port, most probably in Sevastopol. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also said on CNN that the warship is still afloat but clearly damaged.
Obviously, as already happened since the beginning of the Ukrainian war, along with some credible news, fake images/claims have started to circulate online, mostly on social media. Some, as a photo allegedly showing the warship through NVGs as it burned, has been debunked.
Originally built in Ukraine during the Soviet-era, the cruiser entered service in the early 1980s with the name Slava, before being recommissioned in 2000 with the current name as new flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. The Moskva underwent a major refit five years ago, and in its current configuration is armed with 16 P-1000 Vulkan anti-ship missiles, 64 S-300F (SA-N-6 Grumble) long-range surface-to-air missiles, 40 OSA-MA (SA-N-4 Gecko) short-range surface-to-air missiles, a twin AK-130 130mm dual purpose gun, as well as six AK-630 close-in weapon systems and electronic warfare systems and decoys to provide a high degree of protection.
You can enjoy an unprecedented tour of Moskva through the article and photos we published here.
Because of its armament, the warship is considered as a credible anti-access/area denial asset which essentially restricted the movements of Ukrainian forces in the south of the country. The Mosvka was previously deployed in the Syria conflict where it supplied Russian forces in the country with naval protection in exactly the same role, following the downing of a Russian Su-24 by the Turkish Air Force in 2015.
The Russian MOD has confirmed the Moskva sank while being towed.
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