If Russians Lost Moskva and Saratov to Accidents That’s WORSE Than If Missiles Got Them
What kind of a dumpster fire is the Black Sea Fleet running if this is true?
On March 24 Ukrainians claimed that they hit the Russian large landing ship Saratov with a Tochka-U ballistic missile while it was unloading in the port of Berdyansk causing it to sink.
The Russians confirmed the loss of the ship but said that during the unloading a fire broke out (on the dock) and caused a chain of munitions explosions including eventually in Saratov’s open cargo hold.
Video of the Black Sea Fleet's Saratov Project 1171 large landing ship on fire in the port of Berdyansk and two Project 775-class large landing ships departing port. At least one of the two is also on fire.https://t.co/5ogDVTpkC3 pic.twitter.com/s7hDcSKtwQ
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) March 24, 2022
On April 14 the Ukrainians reported they hit the Russian cruiser Moskva with two Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles causing the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet to sink.
The Russians eventually confirmed the loss of the Moskva but said the ship sank in a storm while uncrewed and under tow. According to the Russians the ship was evacuated after another accidental fire.
For the sake of the 500 crew you hope that the Russian version of the event is true and that it was a fire and that there was time to evacuate.
However in the grand scheme of things the Russian version of the events is actually *more* embarrassing and raises the much more serious questions.
In a shooting war, you may lose a ship or two to enemy fire. Anti-ship missiles are very nasty things, and the nature of “large surface combatants” is that they’re high-risk, high-reward.
You wouldn’t expect the Americans to last inside Russian missile range in the Black Sea for longer than 30 minutes, so it’s perhaps a miracle that the Russians could operate inside the Ukrainian missile range for weeks before they were actually punished for it.
However, if they lost two ships in three weeks to accidents that would raise the question of what kind of an institution is the Black Sea Fleet running?? What is this dumpster fire of a fleet?? What is at the root of it? Laziness, incompetence, and embezzlement? Or chronic underinvestment? For example, trying to operate too many ships of too old vintage with too few monies for maintenance and modernization? (The Black Sea Fleet is only third in importance after the Northern and the Pacific Fleets.)
It would also raise the question of how far the problem extends. Is this merely a Black Sea Fleet problem, or one shared by the entire Russian navy, or even by the entire Russian military?
In the grand scheme of things, the loss of Moskva isn’t that important. It provides the Ukrainians with a morale boost and a boost to national pride. Albeit, this is kind of bad when your war is all about weaning Ukrainians off of Ukrainianism and restoring them to Russianhood. But tactically all that it means is that the amphibious landing feints the Russians have been performing will without Moskva’s air defense package henceforth be less credible. This may allow the Ukrainians to use some troops they have been amassing in the heavily-fortified Odessa elsewhere.
But the incident is very important if it is revealing of Russian competence at large. If they indeed lost two ships in three weeks to accidents (and not missiles) that’s not exactly a bullish sign for them. Minimally skilled operators should be able to unload or sail a working ship without getting it blown up. If factory workers accidentally burned down two assembly halls in three weeks you would ask yourself if there’s something wrong with the workers or the halls.
Indeed both Saratov and Moskva were old. Saratov entered service in 1966, and Moskva in 1982. The ship was at one point scheduled for a modernization in 2015 but as it was already old and there was a shortage of funds only life-extension work was done on her 2016-2019. Even so, the ship wasn’t expected to see service past 2030.
Having missed on the modernization, it never received a modern fire-detection and fire-suppression system of the kind installed on the sister ship Marshal Ustinov that serves in the favored Northern Fleet.
The last time a fire ended the career of a large Russian warship was in 2014, also in the Black Sea Fleet.