The sinking of the Russian Slava Class missile cruiser Moskva within the Black Sea on April 14 represented one of many greatest losses any Navy has suffered for the reason that Nineteen Forties and the largest single loss for Russia in a struggle zone for the reason that Second World Struggle. The Russian Defence Ministry reported a hearth aboard the ship, subsequently the containment of this fireplace, after which the sinking of the ship in a storm earlier than it had returned to port. Whereas Ukrainian and Western analysts we’re fast to attribute the sinking to a Ukrainian strike by two derivatives of the Soviet Kh-35 cruise missile, nevertheless, the chance stays that the Russian ship could have sunk by itself. Which of those prospects would have worse implications for the Russian Navy stays unsure. Various components make the Russian cruiser’s sinking by an accident reasonably than a missile strike believable, with these more and more raised by analysts after the ship’s loss was confirmed. The cruiser is the oldest of its class fee 40 years in the past in 1982, and like lots of the vessels inherited from the Soviet period and surviving the extreme neglect of the Nineteen Nineties the Moskva was in removed from pristine situation. Certainly the ship was set to be scrapped within the Nineteen Nineties with solely an intervention by the mayor of Moscow, the ship’s namesake, stopping this. The next overhaul to the ship primarily included eradicating rust and re-applying paint reasonably than truly enhancing its efficiency, with many techniques nonetheless non-operational years later. Whereas the Soviet Union because the world’s second largest economic system was anticipated to have the ability to maintain a really giant floor fleet together with over a dozen cruisers, post-Soviet Russia after its financial collapse within the Nineteen Nineties struggled with even a a lot smaller quantity.

Russian cruisers and destroyers in the present day all date again to the Soviet period, with the Navy not constructing such ships and as a substitute specializing in lighter frigate and corvette sized vessels. As such the Navy has usually had little selection however to maintain ageing and infrequently solely semi purposeful ships in service to protect a semblance of excessive endurance energy projection capabilities. As demonstrated in Syria, nevertheless, the majority of the Navy’s contribution to fight operations got here from trendy submarines, frigates and corvettes armed with superior cruise missiles a lot of which had been a small fraction of the dimensions of a cruiser. The age of the Slava Class design not solely means it’s extra worn out, but additionally much less stealthy and extra considerably much less secure and comfy for crew than trendy designs.

The Moskva was very closely armed with weapons, shut in weapons techniques, torpedoes, huge P-1000 cruise missiles and a number of units of floor to air missiles which left vital room for a hearth or different accident to rapidly get uncontrolled. The consequence, very like the well-known case of British battleships within the First World Struggle, was a ship vulnerable to exploding when taking even comparatively minor hits by a sequence response, and doubtlessly even exploding attributable to a hearth or different accident onboard. It could won’t ever be recognized for sure what sank the Moskva, with Western and Ukrainian sources having a robust curiosity in crediting a missile strike whereas Russia could search to hide the truth that it was misplaced to enemy motion if that was the case. No matter prompted the incident, nevertheless, could trigger Russia to reevaluate the continued viability of its heavyweight floor ships inherited from the Soviet Union and rethink the way it will design potential successors ought to these ever turn into financially viable.

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