As the rumor mill continues to spin around the exact events leading up to and following the sinking of Russia's Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva, a new image has emerged showing the heavily damaged ship listing heavily to port. While we cannot authenticate the photo fully just yet, it is by far the most convincing piece of photo evidence showing just how bad the cruiser was damaged before it succumbed to the sea.
The loss of the Moskva, the 40-year-old Slava class cruiser that was, according to U.S. officials, stuck by multiple Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles on April 13th, 2022 as it sailed in the northwestern Black Sea, is the most significant naval combat loss in as long as the ship has been in the water. It remains very unclear just how many of her crew were wounded or went down with her, although Russia continues to insist all of the sailors onboard got off safely. The Slava class generally has a complement of around 500 sailors and officers.
There have been plenty of fake images and videos that have claimed to show the cruiser on fire or sinking, but none have been anywhere near as realistic or as detailed as this. There are still some discrepancies, the biggest of which is that Russia claims she was lost while being towed back to her homeport of Sevastopol in a storm. Clearly, the seas look calm in this image. Still, that claim fits Russia's ideal narrative and it isn't clear when this image was taken. The weather could have changed throughout the ordeal.
The damage to the ship is very apparent, with major fires clearly impacting the vessel, especially amidships, where you can see fires still burning and what looks like major scaring at and below the waterline. This is precisely where most anti-ship cruise missiles are supposed to hit. This general area also hosts a pair of P-500 or P-1000 anti-ship missiles in their armored launch tubes. The detonation of these missiles could cause major destruction, as well. Scorching is seen along the upper hull edges, which points to widespread fire damage inside. It also looks like its life rafts have all been deployed near the rear of the ship, along with its small boats, and you can see the crane still deployed.
We also know that ships from other nations came to Moskva's assistance, so it was just a matter of time before imagery emerged of the damage. Once again, we cannot confirm that this was indeed the case here, but it does look like this could be our first authentic image of the doomed ship before it sunk.
A second picture has now emerged reinforcing the validity of the first:
Our friend Evergreen Intel had a great spot. It looks like the water monitors are not on the Moskva itself but belong to the Russian sea-going tug Shakhter that was actually behind the Moskva in this image. So we know it was responding when this was taken.
A video of the stricken Moskva, with what appears to be the tug Shakhter nearby, has now emerged online. This clip looks to have been shot around the same time that two pictures of the ship that had previously appeared on social media were taken.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com