How does the Russian Navy’s strength be affected by the missile cruiser Moskva’s encounter with a huge explosion and subsequent sinking in the Black Sea?
On April 14 the Russian Defense Ministry announced that a fire broke out on the cruiser Moskva, due to a large explosion that caused “the ship was badly damaged. The crew was completely evacuated. The causes are being determined”.
“While being towed to port, due to damage to the hull of the ship fire broke out that caused an explosion in the ammunition depot, the cruiser Moskva lost stability. Add to the weather conditions with big waves, the ship was sunk,” the Russian Defense Ministry announced on the night of April 14 (Russian Time) about the worse condition of the ship.
The cruiser Moskva is one of three ships of Slava class guided missile cruiser, it plays the role of flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. In addition to the aforementioned ship, the Russian Navy is also equipped with the ships Marshal Ustinov and Varyag of the same class.
Whether the Moskva can be restored or not, a representative for the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) declined to comment. However, Mr. Ilya Kramnik – an expert from the Center for North American Studies gave his opinion on the damage mentioned above.
“Moscow has been upgraded and just returned to the fleet in 2020, but the degree of modernization is quite limited, mainly focusing on replacing some radar stations and electronic equipment.”
“The ship did not receive a modern combat management system as well as modern firefighting equipment. Perhaps this is one of the factors affecting its ability to sustain life,” the expert explained.
According to Kramnik: “The removal of the missile cruiser Moskva from the battle is unlikely to affect the situation on the Ukrainian battlefield, because the fighting mainly takes place on land.”
“In recent days, the ship has performed the function of flagship when providing information from radar to the rest of the naval task group, the Moskva has an outdated but quite powerful radar system,” Kramnik noted.
“If we assume that the fire was the result of hostilities, then it is a reliable fact that Ukraine receives intelligence and targeting instructions from NATO countries,” the expert said.
“After what happened, the combat training program should at least be reviewed. If this was a cruise missile attack as the Ukrainian side says, then there will be big questions about the ship’s air defense capabilities,” Kramnik stressed.
At the same time, the expert noted that the cruiser Moskva is one of the warships with the most massive anti-aircraft missile array, covered from close to long-range, although these are not the latest weapons.
Besides, according to Vasily Kashin- Director of Center for European Cooperation, Moscow is theoretically an extremely powerful ship, but in reality, it is outdated and outdated in many mainstream fields.
Kashin commented: “The cruiser did not take part seriously in the special military operation, because it could not fire at ground targets with equipped cruise missiles.”
“Three Project 1164 cruisers – Moscow, Marshal Ustinov and Varyag – are a kind of ‘white elephant’ that Russia can send to participate in international exercises, or ensure a permanent presence off the coast of Syria. Because they have a long operating life and look very powerful, ”said the expert.
“For the cruiser Moskva, due to not playing a very important role, if the crew can be saved, the loss of this ship is only a loss of prestige, but in reality, it will not affect that much to Russian Navy”, Mr. Kashin assessed.
According to Kashin from what happened with the Moskva, it is still possible to use the heavy nuclear cruisers of Project 1144 after undergoing deep modernization, but should be handled carefully”.