The flagship Moscow – the lost symbol of the Russian navy

The sinking of the flagship Moscow not only affects the ability to fight in the Black Sea, but also a great symbolic loss of the Russian navy.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on April 14 that the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, sank while being towed to port after a fire incident off the coast of Ukraine. This event is considered a heavy loss for Russia both in terms of combat and image, when the battleship Moskva is considered one of the most important symbols of the Russian navy today.

Moscow, whose original name is Slava (Glory), is the first of the Project 1164 Atlant class of guided-missile cruisers. Construction began in 1976 at the 61 Kommunara Shipyard in the city of Mykolaiv, in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The battleship was launched three years later and entered service with the Soviet navy in early 1983.

Slava was used to bring the Soviet delegation led by leader Mikhail Gorbachev to the summit of Malta in early December 1989. The US delegation led by President George HW Bush arrived at the event with the cruiser USS Belknap.

The cruiser Slava at sea in 1983. Photo: Wikipedia.

The cruiser Slava, the predecessor of the Moskva, at sea in 1983. Photo: Wikipedia.

The battleship returned to Mykolaiv for overhaul in December 1990 and left port only eight years later, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. She was recommissioned to the Russian Navy in April 2000 as Moscow, replacing the cruiser Admiral Golovko as flagship of the Black Sea Fleet.

Not only a flagship, Moscow is also a surface ship with the most powerful weapons and sensors of the Black Sea Fleet. This ship 186 m long, 21 m wide and has a displacement of 12,000 tons over the years has become a symbol of the might of the Russian navy.

Moscow has participated in a series of naval cooperation activities, including exercises and visits to foreign ports. It was deployed to patrol the Black Sea when the Russo-Georgian war broke out in August 2008.

In August 2013, the cruiser Moskva docked in Havana in Cuba, before deploying to the Mediterranean in response to a gathering of American warships off the coast of Syria. During the 2014 Ukraine crisis, Moscow was tasked with blocking the Ukrainian fleet at Lake Donuzlav in the Crimean peninsula.

After Russia launched a military campaign in Syria at the end of 2015, the battleship Moskva was deployed in the eastern Mediterranean to set up an air defense cell to protect the port of Latakia. The ship moved to the waters off the Syria-Turkey border in November 2015 in response to the downing of a Russian Su-24 fighter jet by a Turkish F-16.

After the operation in Syria, Moscow returned to port for maintenance in early 2016, but a lack of funding meant that the fate of the ship was not decided until mid-2018.

The maintenance and upgrade process was completed in early July 2020, allowing the battleship to operate until 2040. Moscow’s main weapon is 16 P-1000 Vulkan anti-ship missiles with a range of 800 km, each bullet has a The length is equivalent to a MiG-17 fighter and weighs about 5 tons, carrying a semi-armored warhead containing 950 kg of high explosive or a nuclear warhead equivalent to 350,000 tons of TNT.

It is also equipped with 64 long-range anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 90 km, 40 short-range anti-aircraft missiles and a variety of automatic cannons, anti-submarine weapons and electronic warfare systems.

When Russia launched a military campaign in Ukraine, the cruiser Moskva joined the war from the very beginning, acting as a command ship and long-range air defense umbrella of Russian forces in the Black Sea.

The ship Moskva at the port of Sevastopol on April 7.  Photo: Maxar.

The ship Moskva at the port of Sevastopol on April 7. Image: Max.

The Ukrainian Navy does not own large warships in the Black Sea, making the Vulkan missile system of the cruiser Moskva no conditions to show strength.

However, the S-300F Fort air defense complex with 64 shells with a range of 90 km allows Moscow to establish an air defense network over the Black Sea, limiting the activities of the Ukrainian air force and protecting ground forces engaged in war. in the south of this country. The three-coordinate radar MR-710 Fregat and MR-800 Voskhod with a tracking range of 150-200 km also allows it to track many air and sea targets during patrols.

“The S-300F Fort air defense complex allows the Moscow battleship to cover most of the northern Black Sea area during patrols. This appears to be part of a multi-layered defense network with the participation of the S complex. -400 at the Sevastopol military port and similar systems deployed throughout the Crimean peninsula,” said military expert HI Sutton.

However, that modern armament and sensors did not help the cruiser Moskva avoid a tragic end. An explosion occurred on board the ship while it was operating off the coast of the city of Odessa, southern Ukraine on April 13.

The mayor of Odessa announced that Ukrainian forces used two Neptune anti-ship missiles to attack the Moskva ship. Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the ship exploded in its ammunition depot after a fire, causing severe damage to the hull. During the process of being towed to a port in Crimea, the Moskva ship sank in the Black Sea on April 14.

The sinking of the Moskva ship caused the Russian navy to lose its powerful anti-aircraft umbrella in the Black Sea, especially when the other two ships of Project 1164, Varyag and Admiral Ustinov, were both in the Mediterranean, unable to enter the Black Sea because of Turkey. Ky blockaded the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits.

The incident also caused Russia to suffer irreparable economic damage. “It would cost them at least $700 million to replace this warship, but they don’t have the budget to do so in the current predicament,” said Sean Spoonts, editor-in-chief of Special Operations Forces Report (SOFREP) magazine. review.

Damage to Russian weapons when the flagship sank in the Black Sea

Damage to Russian weapons when the flagship sank in the Black Sea. Graphics: Naval News.

Russian warships that have been operating freely near Ukraine’s coast in recent weeks appear to have moved further away after the incident. “Russia has lost an important part of its naval capabilities in the Black Sea, as well as the ability to strike targets in Ukraine. The amphibious operation in Odessa or Mykolaiv is now almost impossible without Moscow.” Russian military analyst Pavel Luzhin stated.

“The sinking of the Moskva is Russia’s heaviest loss since the beginning of the campaign in Ukraine. Losing warships is a far cry from other military assets, because they are often seen as an extension of a country’s territory. The psychological effect. The problem is even more serious, when the warship is named after the Russian capital and carries important symbolic meaning,” said Tayfun Ozberk, a veteran military commentator at Naval News.

Vu Anh (According to Naval News, Newsweek)

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