Reports coming from Ukraine state that the Russian navy Frigate, Admiral Makarov has been hit by a missile and is on fire near Snake Island in the Black Sea. The video below shows what it reported to be the frigate on fire and adrift while being filmed by the helicopter orbiting the vessel.
There are unconfirmed reports as this is being written that short burst morse code transmissions are being received saying,
“We are sinking”
The ship seems to have been struck several hours ago in Ukraine. This would place the time of the attack at approximately 9 pm local time. Ukraine military sources say that the ship was hit by the Neptune anti-ship cruise missile that also hit and ultimately sank the Russian Cruiser Moskva.
The US has not reported that it provided any intelligence to aid in targeting the ship, but US satellites using synthetic aperture radar can ‘see’ the radar disturbance created when a naval vessel is using its air or surface search radar as it detects the radar frequency as an additional return to its own very sensitive receivers and signal processing computer. The vessel can be tracked in this way very easily at night and beneath dense cloud cover.
The Admiral Makarov is a “Frigate” unlike the Moskva which was a cruiser. The difference between the two is a matter of gross tonnage, mission capability, weapons systems, and endurance. The Makarov was roughly half the tonnage of the Moskva with an endurance of 30 days at sea before refueling. Frigates are faster and tighter turning ships than cruisers while carrying fewer and less powerful guns and missiles but have anti-submarine warfare capabilities that cruisers do not generally have. This can include, active sonar, towed passive sonar arrays, torpedoes, depth charges, and ASW helicopters. In the case of the Russian navy, most of their ships carry a cluster or two of rocket-propelled depth bombs that are a throwback to the “Hedgehog” anti-submarine warfare weapons system developed by the British in WWII.
The Makarov is one of three in the Admiral Grigorovich class built so far in a run of six vessels. She was begun in 2012 and commissioned in 2017. She represents the latest technology in terms of weapons, sensors, and ship design that the Russian navy is capable of. As a matter of long-standing practice, the Russians tend to pack their ships with redundant weapons systems to offset reliability issues that make them floating ammo magazines.
The Makarov carries 8 anti-ship cruise missiles, 24 anti-aircraft missiles, a 100mm cannon, 4 torpedo tubes, 2 CIWS cannons, 8 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, the hedgehog-like anti-submarine rocket system, and an anti-submarine warfare helicopter.
The attack on this ship is of particular note since the Makarov is so new relative to the cruiser Moskva which was built in 1983. This newer ship carried the latest in Russian air defense and surface search radar and was still struck by a Neptune missile anyway.
The Makarov appears to have been closer to the coast than the Moskva was when she was sunk and was probably there to do air and surface surveillance with her radar systems along the southern coast of Ukraine. Her presence near Snake Island suggests they may have been using the landmass to make it harder for cruise missiles like the Neptune to see the ship on its own targeting radar.
There is no news as to the fate of the ship and whether it has succumbed to fire and flooding. Early reports state that several vessels, presumably Russian, are en route to the stricken ship at their best speed.
Her crew is believed to be about 200 and we have no reports on possible casualties yet.
Russian naval strength in the Black Sea Fleet was just 12 surface combatant vessels, now minus the Moskva and Makarov. Turkey has closed the narrow Bosphorus waterway to the Mediterranean Sea making it impossible for the Russians to replace these vessels without trying to force their way through with the risk of war with Turkey.
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