Down & Out! Pride Of Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet ‘Moskva Missile Cruiser’ Finally Sinks After Alleged Neptune Strike

Moskva missile cruiser – one of the Russian Navy’s most powerful warships has sunk in the Black Sea, serving a tremendous blow to Moscow. Russian state news agency TASS reported that the guided-missile cruiser Moskva had sunk, citing a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

“During the towing of the cruiser Moskva to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to hull damage received during a fire from the detonation of ammunition. In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank,” the statement said, according to TASS.

Earlier, Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti had confirmed an explosion abroad the pearl of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva. RIA reported that a blast abroad the ship resulted in “serious damage” but asserted that the cause of the explosion was shipboard fire and the detonation of ammunition.

However, Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the region around the black seaport of Odesa, said that two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles had hit the Moskva.

While the claims of both Russia and Ukraine cannot be verified right now, one thing is certain the Russian Navy has suffered a massive setback with the Moskva out of action. The Moskva is the second Russian ship to go down in the war after the landing ship ‘Orsk’ went down in the Sea of Azov.

Noted defense analyst H I Sutton took to Twitter to say, “Beyond any reasonable doubt that the 11,490-ton SLAVA Class cruiser Moskva has been hit off Ukraine. Even Russian sources report it. She had been operating in relatively predictable patterns in the Northern Black Sea. The close-in defenses on the ship were dated.”

Crippled Missile Cruiser a Symbolic, Strategic Blow to Russia - The Moscow Times
Moskva Missile Cruiser

The first report that Moskva was seriously damaged and that Ukrainian missiles were responsible appears to have come from social media posts from a Ukrainian “volunteer” named Serzh Marko “The cruiser Moskva has just been hit by 2 Neptune missiles. It is standing [not sunk], burning. And there is a storm at sea,” said Marko.

There are separate, equally unconfirmed reports that one of Ukraine’s Turkish-made armed TB2 drones might have been involved in the attack on Moskva, possibly to distract it from the incoming missiles.

The drone could have been used to positively identify the ship, helping to avoid accidentally hitting commercial vessels in the Black Sea and then get its coordinates to cue the missiles to the target area.

Interestingly, the Russian Ministry of Defense recently released a video that shows the Project 11356R Admiral Grigorovichclass frigate Admiral Essen engaging a TB2 while sailing the Black Sea.

Moskva Missile Cruiser Warship

The Moskva was a guided-missile cruiser and one of the longest-serving ships in the Russian Navy. The ship was first commissioned in the Soviet Union Navy in 1983 and was named Slava.

Slava got worldwide attention in the Malta summit of 1989 between the Soviet Union and the United States when the Soviet leadership used the ship as their living quarters.

Moskva was renamed after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and recommissioned as ‘Moskva’ in 2000, replacing the Kynda-class cruiser Admiral Golovko.

The Moskva, unlike the traditional role played by a cruiser of escorting an aircraft carrier, was primarily intended to attack the enemy carrier. Therefore, the ship design was built around 16 supersonic missiles. The ship initially carried the P-500 Bazalt-type missiles but was later upgraded to carry longer-ranged P-1000 Vulkan missiles.

The ship was also fitted with S-300 surface-to-surface missiles, AK-130 dual-purpose guns, AK-630 close-in weapon systems, and RBU-6000 anti-submarine mortars.

Earlier in the war, the cruiser was operating in the vicinity of Snake Island. The cruiser was involved in the infamous incident on the island when the Ukrainian border guard there replied to demands to surrender by the ship with “Russian warship, go F*** yourself.” The cruiser was used to attack the Snake Island with the Russian patrol boat Vasily Bykov.

Neptune Anti-Ship Missile

Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said that “a surprise happened” with the Moskva.

A spokesman for the Odessa military administration, Sergey Bratchuk, said on Telegram that “according to available data, the cause of the ‘serious damage’ to the Moskva was ‘Neptune’ domestic cruise missiles”.

The Neptune missile was inducted into the Ukrainian Defence Force in 2021 after being in development for six years. Ironically Neptune’s design is based on the Soviet Kh-35 anti-ship missile. The Neptune complex consists of a one command machine (with satellite communication), 1-6 launchers, 1-6 transport-charging machines and a 1-6 transport machine.

Transport vehicles transport missiles. The launcher has four containers for missiles. Neptune’s Launch containers are similar to containers for S-300 missiles. This is true because they are made by the same company that makes these containers and maintains the S-300.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, the Neptune is a coastal anti-ship cruise missile capable of destroying naval vessels in a range of 300 km.

In a statement during the induction ceremony, the Ukrainian Defence Minister said that they intended to integrate Neptune with missile boats, patrol vessels and corvettes as an integrated defense system that could take on any attack from the seas.

Although the cause of the damage to the Moskva remains unverified, the going down of ships has dealt significant damage to Russia both strategically and morally. The cruiser leaves behind a long-lasting legacy of serving throughout the world from the Black Sea, the Mediterranean sea, the Atlantic ocean, and the Indian ocean.