Ukraine ‘Punctures’ World’s Oldest Active-Duty Warship; Russia’s Rescue Ship ‘Kommuna’ Damaged In Attacks

In yet another assault on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) headquarters in Crimea, Ukraine accomplished a unique feat by putting the world’s oldest active-duty naval vessel ‘Kommuna’ out of service.

The Ukrainian Navy hit the Russian salvage ship ‘Kommuna’ on April 21, setting the vessel ablaze at the BSF’s Sevastopol port headquarters in Crimea, where the vessel was reportedly docked. The extent of the damage, however, currently remains unverified.

Earlier, in the morning of April 21, Russian telegram channels were abuzz with reports that a Ukrainian missile attack had struck a vessel in Sevastopol. The Russian-installed governor of the region, Mikhail Razvozhayev, reportedly claimed that an anti-ship missile had been “repelled” and “fragments caused a small fire, which was quickly extinguished.”

The attack was later confirmed by Dmytro Pletenchuk, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Navy. “This event occurred with the direct involvement of the Ukrainian Navy. The type of damage caused to the ship is being established, but early reports indicate that the ship is not fit to perform missions,” he noted.

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However, due to a scarcity of information, some other military bloggers said that a large landing vessel ‘Yamal’ which was also docked at the port, could have been attacked instead of the Kommuna. EurAsian Times could not independently verify these claims.

Local media reported that the Crimea crossing had been closed, and unverified footage that had been shared on social media seemed to show a Russian naval vessel on fire.

The missile used by Ukraine to strike Kommuna is not known at the time of writing this report, but the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have frequently attacked Crimea using long-range Storm Shadow or SCALP-EG missiles.

Some military watchers said on social media that the Ukrainian forces are exhausting their precious long-range missiles on vintage Russian vessels that do not have much life left in them. However, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense gloated about another successful attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which has visibly felt the heat of Ukraine’s burgeoning offensive power in recent times. Russia’s BSF has lost several ships to Ukrainian assaults.

Late last month, Ukraine launched a massive nighttime attack on the port of Sevastopol, hitting two Russian military warships, a communications center, and many other Black Sea Fleet infrastructure.

On March 30, Pletenchuk declared that after successful Ukrainian strikes, Russia had removed almost all of its large ships from ports in Crimea. Additionally, there have been reports that Russia’s Crimean forces are building barriers at the entrance to Sevastopol Bay to avoid more Ukrainian drone attacks on the Black Sea fleet.

Also, the British Defense Ministry’s update on March 31 stated that Russia was making concerted efforts to fortify the defense of its Novorossiysk port, where Moscow had started redeploying its Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol last year.

The recent attack, coming after a lull and amid increased Russian air strikes, appears to be a message that Ukraine is not ready to lose sight of Crimea — yet. “Another bad day for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Today, the Ukrainian Navy hit the Russian salvage ship “Kommuna” in temporarily occupied Crimea. The nature of the damage is being verified,” the Ukrainian MoD said in an announcement on April 21.

File Image: Putin and Zelensky

World’s Oldest Active-Duty Ship Damaged

In service with the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, Kommuna is the oldest active-duty naval vessel in the world and a submarine rescue ship.

In 1915, the unusual-looking Kommuna made its debut as the Volkhov, serving the Russian Navy’s Baltic fleet as a submarine tender and rescue vessel. Kommuna is a catamaran that served in the navy of the Russian Imperial, Soviet, and Russian Federation during the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, the Cold War, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The vessel was formally renamed Kommuna in 1922, meaning Commune in English, to reflect the significantly altered political landscape of Russia at the time.

In the years following its commissioning, Kommuna worked with submarines, doing recovery missions, crew changes, and repairs and refueling. The latter missions included aircraft and ship salvaging among other things.

The double-hulled shape of the ship was originally meant to accommodate docking submarines and rescued items.

Russian rescue ship Kommuna – Wikipedia

Over time, as it underwent upgrades and the size of the submarines became bigger, smaller remote-controlled submersibles, compact rescue submarines, and wreckage carried within the ship were all housed in the central section.

When Ukraine struck the Russian Moskva cruiser in April 2022, there were reports that the Kommuna was deployed by the Russian Navy to salvage the flagship cruiser.

The vessel reportedly helped recover parts of the ship’s wreck and pulled out the dead bodies of the crew killed in the deadly attack carried out by the Ukrainian Navy. At that time, Kommana was carrying the AS-28 mini-sub for the salvage operation.

Kommuna had been housed at the Black Sea Fleet Headquarters in Crimea for a long time. However, as Ukraine missile and drone attacks ravaged the BSF, the ancient 110-year-old vessel became the latest casualty. While the extent of the damage is unknown, even the smallest harm might likely render the archaic vessel unusable for several months or, perhaps, years