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​What Was Targeted in Sevastopol: the Kommuna Salvage Ship or One of the Large Landing Ships

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Illustrative photo / Photo credit: EU
Illustrative photo / Photo credit: EU

Taking out the Kommuna ship, despite its age, could significantly hamper russia’s ability to recover sunken vessels and potentially valuable weaponry

On April 21, one of bays of the Black Sea Fleet in occupied Sevastopol witnessed another round of long-range missile strikes launched by the Armed Forces of Ukraine against warships. The aftermath of the attack remains shrouded in limited and unverified information.

Defense Express What Was Targeted in Sevastopol: the Kommuna Salvage Ship or One of the Large Landing Ships

Reportedly, the strike targeted a vessel in Sukharnaya Bay, with conflicting versions suggesting either the Kommuna salvage ship or one of the large landing ships was hit. Proponents of the latter theory point to satellite images from April 6, revealing the presence of the Yamal large landing ship at the bay’s Ammunition Pier as indicated by MT Anderson.

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Defense Express What Was Targeted in Sevastopol: the Kommuna Salvage Ship or One of the Large Landing Ships

Conversely, the Kommuna ship was documented near Dokova Bay’s pier wall, approximately 1.5 km west, alongside russian combat vessels including Project 1135 Burevestnik patrol ships. These spatial dynamics are outlined in satellite images from early April, with Sukharnaya Bay and the landing ship’s location marked in red and the pier wall in blue. It’s possible that ship positions might have shifted over the ensuing weeks, potentially with another vessel replacing the Yamal ship.

Defense Express What Was Targeted in Sevastopol: the Kommuna Salvage Ship or One of the Large Landing Ships

Moreover, pinpointing the strike to Sukharnaya Bay might be wrong, given visual evidence suggesting a resemblance to Dokova Bay’s cranes and structures, adjacent to the pier wall housing the Kommuna ship and associated vessels.

Yet, deciding the preferable target between a large landing ship and a salvage ship is challenging. Disabling another russian large landing ship would erode the enemy’s logistical capacities in the Black Sea. And it should be noted that the russian Black Sea Fleet now possesses only seven landing ships post the March 24 missile strike that inflicted damage on the Azov and Yamal ships.

The Kommuna ship Defense Express What Was Targeted in Sevastopol: the Kommuna Salvage Ship or One of the Large Landing Ships
The Kommuna ship / open source

Regarding the Kommuna ship, despite its venerable age dating back to its 1915 launch, it stands as the sole salvage ship of its class in the Black Sea, crucial for deep-sea operations, submarine salvage and retrieval of sunken cargoes. Notably, the Kommuna ship has undertaken operations related to the sunken Moskva missile cruiser Moskva and the destroyed Caesar Kunikov ship, potentially retrieving parts of the P-1000 Vulkan anti-ship missiles, possibly with nuclear capabilities. Its absence would significantly hinder similar critical operations for russia in the region.

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