September 04, 2013

RFS Moskva

Apropos of nothing...nothing at all, I feel the sudden urge to leave this here.

RFS Moskva is the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. This class was intended as a mass produced compliment to the much larger and more expensive Kirov class ships. In the end the production run was cut short due to the fall of the U.S.S.R.
Moskva is one of only three ships of her type in Russian service. Next to  RFS Peter the Great, these 3 ships are the most powerful surface combatants in the Russian navy, sporting 16 supersonic antiship cruise missiles with thousand pound warheads. This means that this very visible, expensive and powerful unit is a politically significant asset. Sending her to command the Eastern Mediterranean squadron in Tartus is not done lightly and is a signal of considerable national resolve.

Russia has two interests in Syria. The naval base in Tartus is one of their last overseas bases and is exceedingly important to them strategically. Furthermore the Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels are closely allied with the extremists who have been killing Russian civilians throughout the Caucuses in great numbers. If Syria's nerve gas and other weapons fall into rebel hands those materials can be expected to be killing Russian citizens in short order.

So the Russians have some quite compelling reasons to be there.

So...a bunch of US and Russian Navy ships in close proxmity and at cross puropses, with the Americas firing missiles over the Russians; Former Senator Fred Thompson has thoughts on that scenario....

Pete Zatciev points out in the comments that Russia has abandoned the Tartus Base. In my defense the Wikipedia page says the Russians are denying this....(and they may well be) but it does look like the base was largely abandoned back in June and the Russian Federation navy is just patrolling outside it.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:48 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
Post contains 309 words, total size 3 kb.

1 So, what do you think about the concept of a "missile cruiser"? Seems like nowhere near as capable or versatile as a carrier. Is it even good for anything?

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Wed Sep 4 13:35:21 2013 (RqRa5)

If you're talking about this particular ship, she is a bit old and  doesnt have the ABM and AAA capabilities of our destroyers. However, it is in some ways more powerful. The 16 humongous SSMs are designed to take a carrier out. The 130mm gun is one of the most powerful naval rifles in service today with good shore bombardment and even anti missile capability. The ship has a respectable antiaircraft capability. A carrier is more versatile to be sure and has vastly more firepower, but this is still a a potentially useful ship and it can be risked where the Russian carrier can't.

I understand Moskva has been fitted with extensive flagship facilities.  A flagship may not seem important in an age of satellite communications but they have proved their utility to the USN which is why we still have a few old slow amphibious command ships as flagships.

Finally, because this is a big prestige unit, sending her to Syria  sends powerful political signals.

If your asking about big non carrier ships in general, then I think there is a place for them, something needs to escort the carriers and a bigger ship can carry more missiles. Since the 1970s the USN has periodically tried to get big surface combatants to carry big radars and lots of missiles. Ships can be detached from a carrier task force for independent duty and a surface action group can carry surface to surface missiles into areas a carrier might not be available for. Nowadays there is also ABM patrol, with a ship on station to defend against ballistic missiles.

So yeah I think the idea of a cruiser or at least a large surface combatant is still viable. A navy needs several types complementing each other.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Wed Sep 4 15:29:44 2013 (F7DdT)


Yes, carriers are very capable. They're also extremely expensive. USS George HW Bush (CVN-77) cost $6.2 billion just to build, not counting the cost of her air wing (which is probably at least another billion).

You'd think we could build missile cruisers for less than that, but the planned "Zumwalt" class is supposed to come in at $7 billion each. Amazing, isn't it? These days it seems like the Navy has joined the Air Force in building everything out of platinum.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Wed Sep 4 15:48:04 2013 (+rSRq)

These days it seems like the Navy has joined the Air Force in building everything out of platinum.

Balsa wood actually....

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Wed Sep 4 16:22:31 2013 (F7DdT)


Part of the problem is class inflation. The Ticonderogas were  (IIRC) the last ship class that the US Navy called "Cruisers" and they came in at 9800 tons.

The last group of Arleigh Burke "destroyers" were 10,800 tons. A modern American "frigate" comes in at a size which, in WWII, would be considered a "light cruiser". (The Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates are 4200 tons.)

I don't think the US Navy has anything any more which would meet the WWII definition of a "destroyer", let alone the smaller "destroyer escort". Pretty much, the only armed ships the US owns like that belong to the Coasties.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Wed Sep 4 21:07:43 2013 (+rSRq)

6 Part of the reason, I think, is the AEGIS system. The amount of equipment required, and in particular the size of the antennas, imposes a minimum size on the ship. And an escort ship for a carrier that doesn't have AEGIS (or something like it) is pretty useless. What I don't understand is why those ships get called "destroyers" instead of "cruisers".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Wed Sep 4 21:12:24 2013 (+rSRq)

7 Man, that thing's a Navy Cross just waitin' to happen.

Scary thought: a WWII Destroyer outguns any ship in the current US fleet.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Wed Sep 4 22:01:15 2013 (ifb6Y)

8 It's a nice thought, but it isn't true. A WWII destroyer usually had 8-12 guns depending on model, but they only fired once every 10-15 seconds. A modern 3-inch gun mount can fire 80 rounds a minute.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Thu Sep 5 07:12:56 2013 (+rSRq)

9 I was thinking that a ship like that is going to be vulnerable to guided torpedoes, while her offensive weaponry is going to have trouble penetrating ABM defences. BTW, AFAIK Moskva isn't going to visit Tartus, which was wholly abandoned recently (in a surprise move Russians relocated all the base personnel to Cyprus, where they berth and service the so-called "BDK" ships, which shuttle to supply Assad). So Tartus now is a former base, like Kamran. And I don't see anyone expecting Russia go to war with Laos or Cambodia over Kamran.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Thu Sep 5 12:39:30 2013 (RqRa5)

10 The P-1000 is a supersonic low altitude missile so it gives a very brief window in which to intercept it. Given that it's supposed to be fired in salvos its quite possible one or more might get through. Wikepedia says Russian tactics involve firing about 8 per carrier targeted.

I had not heard anything about Tartus being abandoned. I hadn't heard that and keep hearing about it...but you're right.

Thanks for pointing that out Pete. I shall dine upon the flesh of the Crow bird this evening.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Thu Sep 5 13:19:07 2013 (F7DdT)

11 Make no mistake, they still support Assad, and not just in UN. Someone high up merely decided not to receive Tomahawks while at the base, and thought it were much less likely for U.S. to bomb Cyprus. They roll one BDK at a time into a Syrian port, roll containers and pallets off it quickly, bolt back out to sea.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Thu Sep 5 13:42:52 2013 (RqRa5)

12 Oh I agree. They wouldn't be patrolling off the Syrian coast or sending the Black Sea flagship if they didn't.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Thu Sep 5 17:11:14 2013 (F7DdT)

13 Steven sez: "A WWII destroyer usually had 8-12 guns depending on model, but they only fired once every 10-15 seconds. A modern 3-inch gun mount can fire 80 rounds a minute."

The 5"/38 on the US Navy's Sumner-class DDs could fire at 15 rounds/minute.  There were six of them per ship.  And, by the way, they were larger rounds to boot.

I'll stand by my claim, thanks.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Thu Sep 5 22:43:07 2013 (ifb6Y)

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