A question for Military minds

Cruiser Muskova

I looked up the Muskova. I was a 50 year old ship modified twice and built to counter our aircraft carriers and other capital ships in blue water. Its armaments were anti-aircraft guns and missiles and large, possibly nuclear, long range anti-ship cruise missiles.

So, what was it doing there?

There was nothing it could do against shore targets that could not be done better by land based aircraft and artillery. So, why bring it within range of land based anti-ship missiles when there was no reason to expose it?

And why, when its normal crew was 510, were there fewer than 100 to evacuate when the fire could not be controlled?

This seems odd to me. Theories?

14 thoughts on “A question for Military minds

  1. RE: “So, what was it doing there?”

    I don’t know.

    The Maskva was the flagship of Russia ‘a Black Sea fleet. This means only that it was a suitable platform for a flag officer to ride. One shouldn’t assume that a flagship is necessarily active in combat.

    My guess would be that Maskva was hanging around near the port at Mariupol to make a triumphant docking when the last Ukrainian forces at the Azov Steal factory are defeated. That’s just a guess.

    If the normal complement is 510 crew, but only 100 were evacuated, that suggests to me that the evacuees were injured.

    I’d recommend not reading too much into the news stories, or even assuming that the reported facts are correct. I say this based on family memories of the loss of the Thresher and later the Scorpion, two American submarines that disappeared in the sea.


    1. “This means only that it was a suitable platform for a flag officer to ride. ”

      Not accurate. Flagships are not just for Admirals to ride around in. If that is the Russian Naval doctrine it makes no sense.

      Our flagships are normally carriers. In 1985, I deployed as part of the first Battleship Battle Group since WWII. THe “star” of the show was USS NEW JERSEY, the flagship was USS LONG BEACH. That was the deal made with Congress to authorize the re-commissioning of the dreadnaughts; NO Flag Officer could use one as his flagship. The two-stars flag flew on CGN-9; his staff was mostly embaked there as well. But admirals being admirals, he spent the majority of the trip on BB-62. Never shifted his flag except on the occasions where it was short term (3-5 days), not enough time to call it a transfer.


    2. RE: “My guess would be that Maskva was hanging around near the port at Mariupol…”

      I am in error here. In fact, the Moskva was 23 miles offshore in the vicinity of Snake Island when the explosion occurred. This, puts the Moskva several hundred miles to the west of Crimea (far from Mariupol) at a location where combat operations have been comparatively light.

      I just heard a speculation that Moskva’s mission south of Odessa consisted of radar surveillance to monitor NATO use of the airspace over Romania.

      Interstingly, Moskva participated in the capture of Snake Island from Ukraine on the first day of the war:



  2. There is also the matter of incompetence and hubris. Depending on who is counting, 7 generals and multiple senior officers have been killed in 6 weeks of an invasion of Russian choosing. Convoys running out of fuel, undisciplined troops, ineffective control of airspace, and losses of hundreds of tanks add to the picture.

    If the army is so bad, then no reason for the navy to be any better.

    Supposedly Putin had a decades long plan to rebuild the Russian military pouring billions into…oligarchs pockets and yachts overseas.

    Apparently he needed more effectiveness than in Syria and Chechnya in which he held all the cards of airspace and size.

    Like the proverbial bully in the schoolyard, he finally picked a fight with the wrong guy. His chipping away at Ukraine by the Donbas and Crimean invasions managed to train Ukraine forces and allow years of weapons acquisition and learning.


    Liked by 2 people

  3. With proper damage control systems and training, even a 50 year old ship and it’s crew should be able to fight and survive. The STARK and the COLE are living proof that ships can and do survive attacks and major damage.

    As far as crew complement goes, it is possible that AFTER evacuation of the ship was ordered, there were still crew members onboard that could not evacuate themselves and were left behind by the able. Kind of cruel, but in the Russian military, it appears they don’t follow the same kind of codes we do.


    1. Could it be that it sailed with a skeleton crew and was not intended as anything but a showpiece, or target?

      Naval captains are generally the best of professionals and it is hard for me to imagine one putting his ship in harms way when it had no mission to carry out. They do know the range of land based missiles to the inch.


      1. OUR Naval captains and commanders ARE the best of professionals. (Mostly) You are giving the Russian military more credit than it deserves, as proven by the incompetence of the Army.

        If the MOSKVA was supposed to be the flagship in the Black Sea, they would have more than a skeleton crew.


        1. The question I would like to have your input on is why the ship, which had no role to play in the current part pf the conflict, was put in range of land based missiles?

          That seems to be a pretty basic tactical blunder. Certainly there are times when the mission requires placing a ship at risk, but considering the configuration of the Muskova, I just don’t see any point in bringing it in range.


          1. …”a pretty basic tactical blunder.”…

            One word: Incompetence.

            Another phrase: False bravado and underestimating the enemy. (Lots of THAT involved in this entire situation.)


  4. These comments by Andrei Martyanov, a former Russian naval officer now living in the U.S., may be of some interest. Martyanov contends that Moskva was never upgraded to the state-of-the-art digital command and control capabilities of other Russian ships and therefore its function in the Black Sea fleet was largely ceremonial.


    1. RE: “Could it be that it was sent to be sunk and the Russians have some bizarre propagand purpose?”

      That seems farfetched to me. There has been a lot of drama at the Asoz Steel factory the last few days. There were rumors that an American general or possibly a regiment of the French Foreign Legion was trapped there in an underground bunker. There have also been rumors of an underground bioweapons lab at the factory. These rumors belong to the fog of war, but it is possible there was something important to be revealed at that location, something worthy of an admiral’s supervision.


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