History of the Moskva
Moskva, formerly Slava ( 'Glory'), was a guided missile cruiser of the Russian Navy. Commissioned in 1983, she was the lead ship of the Project 1164 Atlant class, named after the city of Moscow. With a crew of 510, Moskva was the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet and the most powerful warship in the region.
Slava was laid down in 1976 in Shipyard 445 of the 61 Kommunara Shipbuilding Plant in Mykolaiv, Ukrainian SSR, launched in 1979, and commissioned into the Soviet Navy on 30 January 1983. Between 18 and 22 November 1986, the ship visited the Greek port of Piraeus.
Slava played a role in the Malta Summit (2–3 December 1989) between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George H. W. Bush. She was used by the Soviet delegation, while the US delegation had their sleeping quarters aboard USS Belknap. The ships were anchored in a roadstead off the coast of Marsaxlokk. Stormy weather and choppy seas resulted in some meetings being cancelled or rescheduled, and gave rise to the moniker the "Seasick Summit" among international media. In the end, the meetings took place aboard Maxim Gorkiy, a Soviet cruise ship anchored in Marsaxlokk Bay.
Slava returned to Mykolaiv in December 1990 for a refit that lasted until late 1998. On 15 May 1995, the ship was formally renamed Moskva
Recommissioned into the Russian Navy in April 2000, Moskva replaced the Kynda-class cruiser Admiral Golovko as the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
In August 2008, in support of the Russian invasion of Georgia, Moskva was deployed to secure the Black Sea. During a brief surface engagement, the Georgian Navy scored one missile hit on Moskva before being overwhelmed. After Russia's recognition of Abkhazia's independence, the ship was stationed at the Abkhazian capital, Sukhumi.
In late August 2013, Moskva was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in response to the build-up of US warships along the coast of Syria. During the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, Moskva blockaded the Ukrainian fleet in Donuzlav Lake.
On 17 September 2014, Moskva was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, taking shift from guard ship Pytlivy.
From the end of September 2015, while in the eastern Mediterranean, the cruiser was charged with the air defences for the Russian aviation group based near the Syrian town of Latakia that conducted the air campaign in Syria. On 25 November 2015, after the 2015 Russian Sukhoi Su-24 shootdown, it was reported that Moskva, armed with the S-300F surface-to-air missile system, would be deployed near the coastal Syria-Turkey border. In 2016, she was replaced by sister ship Varyag in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. On 22 July 2016 Moskva was awarded the Order of Nakhimov.
In February 2020, Russian Orthodox officials said that a very rare and important Christian relic purported to be a part of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified was to be placed aboard the ship.
On 3 July 2020, Moskva completed two and a half months of repairs and maintenance intended to allow her to remain in service until 2040. The first post-repair deployment was scheduled for August 2020; however, in reality, she only began to prepare for the deployment in February 2021.She was at sea on exercises in March 2021, and fired the new Vulkan anti-ship missiles in April 2021.
Russian Invasion of Ukraine and Sinking of the Moskva
Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, helped lead the naval assault during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine from February until April 2022. She was the most powerful surface vessel in the Black Sea region at the time, and Ukraine's only threat against it were a limited number of Neptune missiles.
In February 2022, the cruiser left Sevastopol to participate in the attack on Ukraine. The ship was later used against the Ukrainian armed forces during the attack on Snake Island, together with the Russian patrol boat Vasily Bykov. Moskva hailed the island's garrison over the radio and demanded its surrender, and was told "Russian warship, go fuck yourself". After this, all contact was lost with Snake Island, and the thirteen-member Ukrainian garrison was captured. Slava-class cruisers are built for both air and sea superiority, and have no land-attack missiles. Moskva mainly stayed behind other Russian warships, providing air cover for military demonstrations of amphibious landings with Odesa as the apparent target.
In the late hours of 13 April 2022 Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych reported Moskva was on fire and Odesa governor Maksym Marchenko said their forces hit Moskva with two R-360 Neptune anti-ship missiles. A radar image showed the ship was about 80 nautical miles (150 km) south of Odesa around 7 p.m. local time (GMT+3), shortly after the damage occurred. Two reports indicated the ship sank before 3 a.m., 14 April.
The Russian Ministry of Defence said a fire caused a munitions explosion, and the ship sank in stormy seas while being towed to port. Moskva is the largest warship to be sunk in combat since the ARA General Belgrano in the 1982 Falklands War, and the largest Russian warship to be sunk since World War II.
According to the Lithuanian defense minister, there were 485 crew members aboard, including 66 officers. He also said that a Turkish ship responded to a distress call and saved 54 crew members at 2 a.m. local time. Russia stated one sailor from the Moskva was killed and 27 were missing, while 396 crew members were rescued. In November 2022, after families demanded information, a Russian court in Crimea acknowledged the deaths of a further 17 sailors, mostly conscripts. A Russian recruitment office mistakenly sent conscription papers to a missing Moskva sailor in October 2022.
Ukraine has officially declared the wreck of the ship to be an underwater cultural heritage site.
Facts about the Moskva