Friday, August 29, 2008

Scuttlebutt: Was a Civilian Ship Almost Smoked During the Battle of the Black Sea? Probably not, but...

From Livejournal user U-96:

While representatives of the Russian Black Sea Fleet maintain silence about the subject of at exactly what target the MRK "Mirazh" shot a "Malakhit" anti-ship missile (SS-N-9/Siren), this info has surfaced in RuNet:

On 09 August 2008, 30 miles North-West of the Georgian port of Poti, 25 miles from the shore the Moldovan cargo ship "Lotos-1" carrying 1475 tons of wheat from Yejsk to Poti came under missile fire.

Fragments of the second, having exploded 50 to 100 meters off the port side at an altitude of approximately 20 to 30 meters inflicted insignificant damage to the superstructure. All members of the crew survived. The ship did not lose way and exited the combat zone, thankfully making it to Kerch'

Caption: One of the fragments which fell on the deck, which everyone seems to think is the wing of a missile.




Up to now the victim of the "Mirazh" has changed from RKA "Dioskuriya" to "Tblilisi" and finally settled on the guard vessel "Georgiy Toreli". The first two were proven to be destroyed in Poti and it's been deduced that the third was the victim of an anti-ship missile attack.

Since this information has surfaced in the forums that allegedly the "Toreli" has turned up in one piece and remains in Batumi. This has prompted the following commentary from Exeter:


In general, I fear that the real target was the unfortunate Moldovan merchant ship. (...) So, roughly, we will see.

So, we have in Batumi, it seems:

From the Navy - "Guriya", "Atiya" and seemingly both landing ships.

From the Coast Guard - it seems the "Georgiy Toreli, "Sukhumi", "General Mazniashvili", "Kodori", R-102, R-103, R-104, R-105, R-106, R-0111, R-0115, R-0116.

In Poti, it is more or less confirmed that the following were sunk:

From the Navy - "Dioskuriya", "Tbilisi", "Tskhaltubo" and some indications that "Kutaisi" was also sunk.

From the Coast Guard - "Ayeti", "Tsotne Dadiani" (it seems that it is her hulk on the bow of the "Ayeti"), R-204 and R-205?

Not counting the small boys like the "Aistov", the fate of 10 units is unclear: "Akmeta", "Iveriya", "Mestiya", "Gantiadi", "Gali", R-203, R-206, R-207, R-208, R-209.

I have a question, by the way, were these antiquities like "Akmeta", "Gantiadi" and "Gali" in the OOB at the beginning of the war?


Now I won't flog a dead horse about where "10 units" went and all that, or where that first Malakhit went. A more interesting intrigue surrounds the second Malakhit and the Moldovan ship.

And so, for starters, what's up with the rust bucket?

The Lotos-1 is a STK class river cargo ship:



The Project 326 - the ship is equipped with two covered cargo holds and a container deck.

So supposedly this "river boat", laden to the hold covers with wheat was hit the night of the 9th of August by one of the Mirazh's missiles, that is almost hit. The missile for some reason (was there a self-destruct command?) exploded 50 to 100 meters from the cargo ship, showering her with fragments.

Purely theoretically one could imagine that the MRK took the slow moving, but clearly defined on the radar screen 82 meter long Moldovan for a Georgian boat in the nighttime murk. Generally a lot like that can happen in battle...

Some sort of guidance error could have occurred, when the homing seeker "skipped" the small boat and targeted the clearly defined, large carcass of the dry-cargo vessel. This was caught on the MRK in time and they gave to command to destruct (shit, I can't remember, if the P-120 has a comms link with the ship after launch?)...

All of this is theoretical. It's more likely that the above photo of the "missile fragment" could allegedly even remind one of the part of a Malakhit wing. Like this...



So to throw a monkey wrench in the works, one thing shakes these theories to the root.

The warhead of a Malakhit is packed with 840kg of explosives, packed into a nine meter long missile and travels at almost the speed of sound.

I imagine the explosion of a P-120 at a range of 100 meters from a dry-cargo vessel and...And I don't understand how that could just wet the underwear of the crew. Just the shockwave from a 100 meters and the fragments should have turned the port side of the Moldovan into a colander!

In short, mysteries continue to remain mysteries.

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