Following a Ukrainian land-based missile attack, Russia’s greatest battleship exploded and sank as the crew desperately fled the ship. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed “severe damage” to the Moskva after “a fire broke out,” but stated the source of the incident was still being investigated.
The flagship cruiser of Russia’s Black Sea navy was allegedly hit by two R-360 Neptune class anti-ship missiles on Thursday, causing it to explode and sink near Odessa, according to Ukrainian officials. The ship’s 500 crew members were reportedly evacuated after weapons on board accidentally detonated, according to Russian media reports.
The head of the Odessa Regional Military Administration, Maksym Marchenko, writes: “It has been established that the missile cruiser “Moskva” arrived on Snake Island today, exactly where our border guards had directed it! The Russian ship was severely damaged by Neptune missiles.”
The battleship Moskva acquired prominence during the Ukrainian war for its confrontation with Ukrainian border police. When the Russian warship was ordered to surrender, border guards on Snake Island famously advised them to “go f**k yourself” over the radio.
The sinking of the Moskva has left Russia without its flagship cruiser, which was seen as the Black Sea Fleets’ finest line of defense against a Ukrainian onslaught. The warship is equipped with 16 massive supersonic anti-ship missiles, torpedo tubes, and a helicopter, and was originally meant to sink a US navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
Because of its design, which adheres to the Russian principle of loading huge numbers of powerful weaponry onto the hull of the ship, the Project 1164 Slava class is prone to explosions. Losing the vessel, according to Alessio Patalano, a professor of military and strategy at King’s College in London, would be a “huge blow” for Russia.
“Ships operate in the shadows, and their operations are rarely covered in the media. However, they are big floating pieces of national territory, and when one, especially a flagship, is lost, the political and symbolic message jumps out precisely because of it, in addition to the military loss “he stated
The Moskva, a 611-foot (186-meter) warship with a crew of nearly 500, is the pride of the Russian Black Sea naval fleet. According to the website Naval-Technology.com, it was commissioned into the Soviet navy as the Slava in the 1980s, renamed Moskva in 1995, and reentered duty in 1998 following a refurbishment.
The Moskva is equipped with anti-ship and anti-air missiles, as well as torpedoes, naval guns, and missile defense systems close to the ship. All of this equates to tremendous quantities of explosive ordnance in the ammunition magazines. Any fire that came close to them would have reduced the crew’s options for dealing with the threat, according to Schuster.
“You have two options when a fire approaches your ammunition magazine(s): 1) flood them or 2) abandon ship,” Schuster explained. “Otherwise, your crew will perish in the devastating explosion that follows a conflagration involving hundreds of tons of munitions.”
In a Telegram message, Odessa state regional administrator Maxim Marchenko stated that Ukrainian soldiers attacked the Moskva with Neptune cruise missiles. If that’s the case, the Moskva would be the largest battleship ever destroyed by a missile, according to Schuster.
Achieving such a feat would be a significant step forward for Kyiv’s military. The Neptune cruise missile is a Ukrainian weapon based on the Soviet KH-35 cruise missile. According to Ukrainian media accounts, it only became operational in the Ukrainian forces last year.