According to Russian media reports, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, has sunk while being towed to port. According to TASS:
The Moskva missile cruiser sank while being towed amid storm because of hull damage sustained during the detonation of ammunition, Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday.
“During the towing of the Moskva cruiser to the designation port, the ship lost stability due to hull damage, sustained during the detonation of ammunition because of a fire. Amid the heavy storm, the ship sank,” the Ministry said.
The Ministry underscored that the crew was evacuated to nearby Black Sea Fleet ships, as was announced earlier.
We have no reliable information on the number of casualties suffered by the crew.
I really hope this story can put to an end the innuendo that this is a “fake news” story.
Last night we covered the initial reports in BREAKING. The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Hit by Ukrainian Missiles, Dead in the Water, Crew Evacuated. The Moskva came under fire from a Ukrainian Neptune missile launcher that fired two missiles. At least one of the missiles penetrated the missile/gun defensive system, and when it detonated set off explosions of weapons loaded in their firing tubes and ignited propellant. The fire and explosions overwhelmed the damage control effort, evacuating the crew. At some point, the fires were either extinguished or under sufficient control to permit Moskva to be taken into tow. While in transit, Moskva sank.
Some stray thoughts.
- Today is the 110th anniversary of the RMS Titanic striking an iceberg.
- This is the first loss of a Russian flagship since the Battle of Tsushima Straits.
- This is the biggest warship lost since World War II.
- The Argentines are able to share the ignominy of being one of the two nations that lost a capital ship since World War II.
The Russians are still blaming Russian incompetence for the loss rather than giving Ukraine credit for the missile strikes. Placing the responsibility for the loss on a non-specific “explosion” is rather lame as the evolutions a cruiser would carry out don’t have the same risk factors as those aboard aircraft carriers (see USS Oriskany and USS Forrestal; the loss of the USS Bonhomme Richard is in a class of its own).
Strange for an “accident” aboard one ship, as per Russia’s MoD, to cause all the others to sail farther away from shore unless the accident was being hit by Ukrainian missiles. https://t.co/R9I4CfhUM7
— Michael Weiss 🌻🇺🇸🇮🇪 (@michaeldweiss) April 14, 2022
The Moskva figured prominently in an event in the early days of the war when it demanded that Ukrainian troops defending Snake Island surrender. The incident is commemorated in a Ukraine postage stamp. The sinking of that ship will create a huge morale boost.
Not sure if y’all aware of this — that iconic “Russian warship, go fuck yourself” was initially addressed to the Moskva cruiser pic.twitter.com/vCk75OwV7a
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) April 14, 2022
The most immediate military impact, excluding the boost in Ukrainian morale (yes, I know, “In war, the moral is to the physical as three is to one”), is the permanent loss of Moskva’s impressive array of missile launchers to the Black Sea Fleet. According to the provisions of the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, warships of belligerent nations can’t enter the Black Sea unless they are homeported there. Turkey has said that for the purposed of the Convention, the special military operation Russia is flogging away at in Ukraine is a war, and it has turned down requests by three Russian warships to pass through the Straits. The remaining Russian surface combatants are much less capable in a land-attack mode, and they will act, as my old man would say, like a long-tailed tomcat in a room full of rocking chairs.
No sane person believes the Moskva suffered a catastrophic fire and explosion combination by negligence and was lost in a storm.
Interesting development. Russia can try to spin what happened, lie about the amount of damage, say there was a Black Sea storm (there wasn’t)…but it’s hard to counter the Moskva resting on the bottom & no news on the crew. https://t.co/h4QegLUGg8
— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) April 14, 2022
She was fatally struck by two homegrown Ukrainian cruise missiles, neither of which, according to any simulation, should have been able to make it through Moskva‘s defenses. The prestige damage to Russia is huge, and it may, in retrospect, be seen as the decisive moment of the whole war.
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