The flagship of the Black Sea fleet, the Slava class RTS Moskva (121) was badly damaged early on Thursday (Apr 14, Ukraine time). The Ukrainian military announced that two of its Neptune missiles hit the ship. Two hours later the Russians announced that ammunition on board the ship had exploded causing an evacuation of the ship. The crew of 510 has been evacuated. Early news reports indicated that the ship had sunk, but most news media now are saying that it is being towed to port by the Russian navy.
Editor’s Note: Many initial reports by news agencies and social media reported the Moskva had sunk. However, by mid-day on Thursday it was under tow going to port. By the end of the day news reports were saying it has sunk.
The Ukrainians said that the Neptune missiles were launched from the Black Sea shore between Odesa and Nikolaev. It has been reported that a Turkish-built TB2 drone was flown in the vicinity to distract the ships attention from the incoming missiles. The majority of the crew were reported to have been rescued; however, a number of the crew may have died or are missing.
Photo: RK-360MC Neptune Cruise Missile. Photo by Ukraine’s Naval Command, March 15, 2021.
The Neptune cruise missiles are a very recent addition to Ukraine’s inventory of weapons. The RK-360MC Neptune was put into use in the Ukraine navy’s artillery brigade on March 15, 2021, as part of the newly-created coastal defense missile battalion. The missile design is based on the Soviet-Russian Kh-35 cruise missile (AS-20 Kayak). It has a range of 300 kilometers, has a 330 lb warhead, and is a low-altitude missile.
Shelling and missile attacks from the Black Sea fleet has been striking targets along the Ukrainian shore as well as further inland. The Russian blockade of Ukrainian shipping continues. An amphibious landing force on several ships is still positioned in the Black Sea off the coast of Odessa with the capability to land a substantial element of Russian naval infantry. Any attempt to land forces on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine are now problematic – as the amphibious naval force is now more vulnerable to air attack.
The Russians continue to pose a threat to both Mykolayiv and Odessa. Located on the west bank of the Dnieper River close to the coast of the Black Sea, Mykolayiv is a strategic objective for the Russians that is on the road to Odessa located further west along the coast of the Black Sea.
Image: Ukraine Postage Stamp: “Snake Island”. The Ukraine postal service recently had an artist competition for new stamps. This stamp by artist Boris Groh was a winner. Snake Island was the location of a small Ukrainian Coast Guard station in the Black Sea that was told to surrender by the Russian navy. The Moskva (121) is depicted in the image.
The Moskva was the ship that was involved in the famous Snake Island incident. In the initial days of the invasion the Moskva radioed to the Ukrainian defenders of Snake Island to surrender. The response from the Ukrainian coast guard was “Russian warship, go f*** yourself”. The Ukrainian defenders were ultimately captured and then released about one month later during a prisoner of war exchange.
A replacement ship would usually come from the fleet the Russians maintain in the Mediterranean Sea. However, the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits have been closed to warship traffic by Turkey in accordance with the Montreux Convention. Russia could force the issue and try to move one or more of its warships through the straits.
The Moskva is a 12,500-ton ship that is over 600 feet long. It carries numerous anti-ship missiles and air-defense missiles. The ship was commissioned into the Soviet navy in 1982. A prime function of the ship would be to protect amphibious ships landing naval infantry. It has 16 fixed launchers for P-1000 anti-ship missiles, vertical tubes for 64 S-300 air-defense missiles, and rail launchers for 40 Osa missiles for aerial self-defense. In addition, it carries guns, torpedoes, and has a landing pad for a helicopter.
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Photo: Moskva cruiser, Russian flagship of the Black Sea.
Russian Cruiser Moskva – Wikipedia
“Ukraine’s navy acquires first Neptune cruise missiles”, Kyiv Post, March 15, 2021.
“The Russian Cruiser ‘Moskva’ Dominates the Black Sea”, by David Axe, Forbes.com, January 20, 2022.