Ukrainian Missile Strikes Putin's Warship, as Historic as the Titanic

Russian naval strength tested by recent maritime incident

by Zain ul Abedin
Ukrainian Missile Strikes Putin's Warship, as Historic as the Titanic
© Omer Messinger/Getty Images

A Russian warship, renowned for its longevity and historical significance, was engulfed in flames today following what is believed to be a Ukrainian missile strike. The incident occurred in the contested Crimean port of Sevastopol, specifically within the waters of Sukharnaya Bay, where residents reported hearing loud explosions.

Eyewitness videos circulating online appear to show fierce flames aboard a naval vessel, stirring speculations about the target being the Kommuna, the world’s oldest active naval ship. Launched during the final years of Tsar Nicholas II's reign, the Kommuna is a venerable 109-year-old vessel that has remarkably survived both World Wars, the Russian Revolution, and numerous other historical conflicts.

The Kommuna, a 315-foot salvage ship, has recently been instrumental in Russian naval operations, including the investigation into the sinking of the Moskva, the fleet's flagship, in 2022. Despite its pivotal role and storied past, there has been no official confirmation that the Kommuna was the ship struck.

However, reports from pro-war Russian sources and the Crimean Wind Telegram channel suggest that it indeed suffered damage. Adding to the chaos, local authorities reported attempts to target other military vessels in the area, indicating a broader offensive strategy.

The Governor of Sevastopol, a Putin appointee, acknowledged a "small fire" resulting from missile fragments intercepted by the port's defenses. The official, Mikhail Razvozhaev, claimed the fire was rapidly controlled and extinguished without specifying the vessels involved.

Black Sea Power Shift

In the aftermath, Russian officials and media have often attributed similar incidents to debris from intercepted missiles, a narrative that persists amidst ongoing hostilities. Additional reports from the scene indicated that two individuals were injured during the strike, and naval divers are currently assessing the area for underwater explosives, highlighting the tense and precarious nature of the situation.

This recent attack underscores the significant losses suffered by Putin’s naval forces in the Black Sea, attributed largely to Ukrainian kamikaze drones and missile strikes. The once-dominant Black Sea Fleet has seen its capabilities drastically reduced, marking a critical shift in naval power dynamics in the region.

The Kommuna’s participation in modern and historical conflicts, including its role in raising the sunken British submarine HMS L55 in 1928, illustrates its unique and enduring legacy in naval warfare. This recent incident not only reflects the ongoing intensity of the conflict but also highlights the vulnerability of historical assets in modern warfare.