A 110-year-old Russian Navy rescue vessel named Kommuna, which was commissioned in 1915 is most likely taking part in the effort to salvage the wreckage of at least some equipment of the sunk flagship Moskva in the Black Sea.
Moskva was seriously damaged in mid-April after being hit by Ukrainian Neptune shore-based anti-ship cruise missiles. The vessel then caught fire, necessitating a full-crew evacuation.
The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet had been spearheading Moscow’s naval campaign in Ukraine for two months, serving as a crucial component in the siege of Mariupol’s port city.
According to HI Sutton, a submarine warfare expert, the Russian military is undertaking a salvage operation in the location where the cruiser Moskva sank, based on satellite picture analysis. The Kommuna, the world’s oldest operational navy ship, is one of the vehicles involved in the salvage effort.
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) April 22, 2022
The Kommuna was stationed at the Crimean peninsula’s Sevastopol military port, near where the battleship Moscow caught fire and sank on April 14.
The recovery ship is outfitted with an AS-28 deep-submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV) capable of diving more than 1,000 meters into the water, sufficiently enough to investigate the wreckage of the Moskva.
“The Moskva is too big to fully recover, but large debris and rocket launchers can be towed to the surface,” Sutton said. Meanwhile, lifting the whole 610-foot hull of the Moskva in one piece is unrealistic. However, some parts can be retrieved from the sea bottom.
“That would be an enormous engineering task, to try to bring that ship up to the surface,” an unnamed U.S. Defense Department official told reporters on Monday. “We’ve seen no indication that they have shown any interest in doing that.”
Nonetheless, it’s unclear what the Russian salvage crew is hunting for. According to some accounts, the crew may be searching for cryptological materials as well as any weapons or logs. There were also persistent claims that the ship had nuclear warheads in her magazines.
However, the rumor was quashed by a Pentagon official. They stated, “We have no indications that nuclear weapons were on board the Moskva when it went down.”
Kommuna: An Antique Russian Navy Salvage Ship
By design, the Kommuna is a catamaran that rescues submarines. It is the oldest operational ship in the world and the Russian Navy’s lone active warship inherited from the Imperial Fleet.
The ship Volkhov (renamed the Kommuna in 1922) was constructed on November 12, 1912, launched on November 17, 1913, and put into service in the Baltic Fleet on July 14, 1915.
The whole hull is built of unique steel that has kept it from rusting or being damaged throughout more than a century of service.
The Volkhov is unarmed since it has no combat mission. The ship’s primary mission is to recover or salvage sunken submarines, as well as to offer technical and logistical support to submarine troops operating far from land.
The ship’s double-hulled design was created to accommodate docking submarines and rescued items. The middle compartment houses the tiny rescue submarines, smaller remote-controlled submersibles, and wreckage that had been brought into the ship as she was renovated over time.
Later, the ship’s operations also included anything from shipwrecking to aircraft salvage. During the grueling World War II Leningrad battle, Kommuna was even awarded the Medal For The Defense Of Leningrad for her part in recovering vehicles from wrecked supply ships.
In 1917, the Kommuna vessel was utilized for the first time to retrieve the submarine AG-15 from the Aland Islands, according to the Tass. The salvage vessel also received plaudits from the British government for its role in lifting the allies’ sunken British submarine during World War I.
The vessel served in the Baltic Fleet during the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1945, providing submarine repairs and docking for Malyutka-class submarines.
Throughout his whole service, the ship has made significant contributions. Kommuna has retrieved 150 different vehicles throughout its more than 100-year activity, mostly troubled submarines, as well as a variety of airplanes, tanks, and motor vehicles.
A Su-24 assault aircraft sunk at a depth of 1,700 meters was successfully retrieved by the ship in 1977. The Kommuna is upgraded and refurbished regularly to assure operating capacity for over a century.