Moskva's Last PHOTOEX
it only takes a minute
Sunday evening, the first pics came out of the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship, the Slava Class cruiser Moskva.
As we know this Monday AM ... this is her. No photoshop or spoof.
If you need to brush up on your RECCE:
Good news here is that as you can see in the green rectangle above, the life rafts have been deployed. As there were almost 500 Sailors assigned to her, that may be a secondary indication, along with the good weather, that those not killed on impact or in the following fire and secondaries were most likely able to get off the ship and as such, loss of life less. More to follow on that I hope.
I'm sorry, I don't care what nation's flag they fly under; once defeated they are simply Sailors in need of rescue. If you don't get that, we should all pray for you.
When you consider how dark that smoke is, the fire must be intense. The large SS-N-12 Sandbox missiles stacked like so many sticks of dynamite had to be on the mind of the ship's leadership. If one of those things cooks off, they must go like so many firecrackers on a string. We also don't know the extent of her internal damage ... but it appears when this picture was taken she was probably already abandoned.
The reported weapon used to attack the Moskva were the Ukrainian built Neptune ASCM, which is itself evolved from the Soviet Era SS-N-25 Switchblade (Kh-35), AKA "Harpoonski."
To use round numbers, a high subsonic ASCM will cover the ground at about 9nm a minute.
If you are 50nm from the beach, that means you have about five and a half minutes once the missile goes feet wet to engage ... but really, if you don't have I&W of a launch and from what direction ... on a standard issue day with a standard issue watch after weeks and weeks at sea ... even assuming your radars and electronic gear aren't CASREP's or down for maintenance ... when will you detect that?
20nm or 10nm from the ship? Maybe 5nm? That gives you, what, a minute +/- to detect to engage?
Are your watch sections ready? Are your close in weapons systems ready? Who has to give permission to fire? How fast are they from being able to give that order?
That math is just hard ... especially for a crew on station 24/7 for weeks on end. The math is even harder with supersonics.
Look at the pics above, I appears, ironically, she was struck on her port side where her close defense AK-630 are located.
That is about where you'd expect the seeker head from a "Harpoonski" to want to attack. Just about the center of the ship's profile.
One day, perhaps, we may get an unvarnished report of the damage control efforts, along with the story of the Ukrainian coastal defense battery's performance in location, tracking, and ultimate attack on Moskva.
Will we get that? Unknown ... but there are a lot of lessons here. A lot.
Second photo credit to Andy Hall.