Ukrainian officials have claimed that its homemade anti-ship missiles struck the Russian Black Sea fleet's flagship cruiser, Moskva, Reuters reported. The claims have not been independently verified so far.
The Moskva is one of the three Slava-class guided-missile cruisers that are currently in service of the Russian navy. The 11,500-ton cruiser ships were designed around launchers that can hold 16 SS-N-12 Vulcan anti-ship cruise missiles. Pressed into service during the Soviet era, both the cruiser and its anti-ship missiles are a means to counter U.S. and NATO aircraft carriers.
Hit by an anti-ship missile of Soviet design?
According to the Ukrainian governor of the Odesa region, the Moskva was hit by two Neptune anti-ship missiles that were first fielded in March last year. These cruises' missiles are inspired by the Soviet-era Kh-35 (AS-20) 'Kayak' anti-ship missiles that can be launched from helicopters, surface ships, or defense batteries on the shores.
Each Neptune missile has a rocket motor that is 199 inches (5.05 m) in length and weighs close to 2,000 pounds (870 kgs) which includes a 330 pound (150 kg) warhead. Upon impact, the subsonic missile produces a displacement of 5,000 tons.
The Russian flagship, Moskva, was reportedly in the 170 miles (280 km) range of these missiles after it was sent away from the Ukrainian border guards at Snake Island, causing "serious damage", Ukrainian forces claimed.
The Russian claim
While confirming that the Slava-class cruiser had been badly damaged, the Russian military claimed that the cause of the damage was an onboard fire, Russian news agency TASS reported.
According to its report, a fire broke out on the ship that resulted in ammunition detonation and caused serious damage. However, the cause of the fire has not been reported so far. All crew on the ship had been safely evacuated.
Whether the result of a fire or missile strike, the unavailability of its missile cruiser will set the Russian attack back. Last month, a Russian landing ship was hit by a ballistic missile at the port of Berdyansk and reduced to ashes.