Images surfacing on social media today show what appears to be the mortally wounded Russian Cruiser Moskva on April 15th before her sinking in the Black Sea.
On April 15th, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry announced that the Armed Forces of Ukraine has scored two hits on the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva. As covered earlier by this page:
Russian State Media Confirms Mortal Damage to the Cruiser Moskva, Crew Evacuated
However, the Russian Defense Ministry declined to acknowledge the strike, instead of reporting through Russian state-owned media, that the Moskva had suffered a detonation of its ammunition stores which they were investigating. After several hours of little to no information, and American Secretary of State Blinken acknowledging that the vessel was still afloat and being towed to Sevastopol, the Russian MoD announced her floundering.
However, footage of the vessel did not become available until today when users on Telegram and Instagram began circulating the above image.
Analysis by Open Source Analysts over at Covert Shores provided this analysis:
“Open Source analyst and experienced ship spotter Yörük I??k has determined that some of the photos were taken from Project 22870 rescue tug SB742. This ship is part of the Black Sea Fleet’s 145th Rescue Ship Squadron, 1st Group.
The center of the damage appears to be amidships in the region of the funnels. This is aft of (behind) the main P-1000 Vulkan (SS-N-12 SANDBOX) anti-ship missiles and ahead of the S-300F Rif (SA-N-6 GRUMBLE) air-defense missiles. It is also in the vicinity of the engines.”
To the author, it is clear that, if the Ukrainian claims of direct hits from their Neptune Anti-Ship missiles are true, a detonation of ammunition stores of the AK630 30mm CIWS caused immense damage to the primary superstructure, most likely precipitated by the strike. One can see scorching along the waterline directly underneath the impact point where a fire is still raging. Also, one can see scorch marks at several points near the waterline going aft towards the fantail of the Moskva, signaling exhaust points of the immense heat, flames, and smoke traveling throughout the ship.
Much controversy has been swirling over the fate of the Moskva’s captain, 1st Rank Captain Anton Kuprin, whom the Ukrainians have claimed was killed in the initial strike and went down with the ship. However, Russian state-owned media agency TASS has published a video purportedly showing the Captain alive, with about 150 surviving members of his crew, in Sevastopol. However, the scant detail of the video has some analysts questioning its authenticity, specifically when it was shot.
Either way, it is clear that the loss of the Moskva is a serious blow to the Russian Federation since there are only two other Slava-Class Cruisers left in the entire Russian Navy. The Marshal Ustinov in the Northern Fleet and the Varyag in The Pacific Fleet are the two remaining ships. These cruisers, in absence of the Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov (063) and the Pyotr Velikiy, serve as one of the most capable classes of ships in the entire Russian Navy and serve as the flagships of their respective fleets. The Moskva’s loss will leave a lasting impression on the Russian Navy and serve as a case study to all modern naval powers since the last major surface combatant sunk was the ARA General Belgrano in the Falklands War.