On Wednesday afternoon, various Ukrainian sources reported that the Moskva (Moscow), the mainstay of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, had been struck by two Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles fired from the vicinity of Odessa. The subsonic missile is a Ukrainian design based upon the Russian Kh-35 but is more accurate with a greater range due to its origins outside of Russia. Its range is around 175 miles, and it was first put into service in 2021.
Imagine the Moskva as a 12,500-ton mobile missile battery measuring 612 feet with a population of nearly 500. The Moskva is loaded with anti-ship missiles that could wipe out all of the Ukrainian Navy and enough air-defense missiles to thwart any possible attack from the air against the amphibious Black Sea Fleet. It has 16 launchers fitted for P-1000 anti-ship missiles with an effective range of 300 miles, vertical tubes for 64 S-300 air-defense missiles that reach distances of up to 56 miles, rail launchers that can launch 40 Osa missiles for air-based self-defense, a plethora of guns, including twin 130-millimeter guns able to hit targets up to 15 miles away and self-defense guns. Torpedo tubes and helicopters round out her capabilities.
The cruiser's sensors function as missile batteries. Its Top Pair and Top Steer radars have the ability to scan 200 miles or more. The Moskva led the Russian Navy's seaborne offensive against the Republic of Georgia back in 2008 and was able to defend three amphibious ships, which landed an entire battalion, or even two, of naval infantry.
It's not known how many Neptunes would be needed to slash through the Moskva's defenses. It’s also not known specifically how many Neptunes the Ukrainians possess.
Although the sources that reported about the attacks are extremely reliable, they are Ukrainian (by the way, since the war began, official Ukrainian sources have been extremely cautious regarding their declarations and are more likely to downplay claims rather than exaggerate), and the story is not verified by independent evidence.
Information has come from the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. The explosion occurred due to a detonation on the Moskva missile cruiser, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The crew was evacuated completely. The motives behind the incident are currently being investigated. As a reminder, the Russian Defense Ministry had announced that the Moskva had been severely damaged, and the crew was evacuated. The combination of explosives and fire, with no crew, is not the ideal mix for an aircraft carrier.
What actually happened?
In the first instance, once the crew has been evacuated and the ship sunk, damage control is no longer feasible. If a ship is carrying more than 16 tons of explosives in addition to propellants in launch tubes, the chances of salvaging the ship are zero. This is why assertions of the Moskva’s sinking are credible. Although it may be salvaged, there is likely no way to fully repair it. Russian vessels in the Black Sea cannot complete the mending required to permit the Moskva to go to Sevastopol, Crimea, for full restoration.
In the second instance, if the description of the attack is in the vicinity of being true, the discipline at the Combat Information Center was nonexistent. If a state of indiscipline exists on the flagship of a fleet, think what it might be like on a ship that does not have an admiral.
Third, many experts claimed that it was going to take a minimum of six Neptune strikes to knock the Moskva out of commission. This wasn't the case. The reason why it was not true has to be investigated. Was the Moskva working under-strength? Was the crew performing according to the standard slovenly norms to which we've become accustomed from the Russian military? Did the design of the ship fail? Are the sensors used to defend the ship not as effective as their brochures suggest?
Fourth, the Moskva contains six Russian versions of the Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (CIWS). Two cruise missiles, exactly the kind of threat the CIWS was designed to stop, were fired. Was it due to the equipment? Perhaps it was “human factors”?
The only thing a totalitarian regime or someone who believes himself to be “a “strongman” can't tolerate is ridicule. And the collapse of the Moskva will bring plenty of that. Therefore, we should be prepared for major air and missile attacks on Kyiv as Putin tries to instruct the Ukrainian…you'd know the term in its first German use, Untermensch (inferiors)…a bloody lesson.
Every tragedy has a hidden lining if you take the time to look.