Massive explosion: Russian warship reportedly destroyed

FEODOSIA, CRIMEA – In the early hours of Tuesday, the skyline of the Crimean city of Feodosia was illuminated by a colossal fireball, following a series of explosions at the pier. Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, has taken credit for a strike that purportedly obliterated the Novocherkassk, a Ropucha class landing ship. While this assertion awaits verification, open-source images depict a vessel akin to a Ropucha class ship ablaze near an ignited pier.

Russian authorities have attributed the obliteration of the Novocherkassk to air-launched cruise missiles. Satellite images from Planet Labs, captured on the 24th of the month, depict a Ropucha class vessel docked at the same berth. Oleshchuk commemorated the event on Telegram, extending his gratitude to the Air Force pilots and all those involved for their meticulous work.

Feodosia, situated on the southeastern coastline of Crimea, is roughly 60 miles east of the Kerch Bridge and 100 miles west of Sevastopol. The town’s compact harbor and pier can host a limited number of cargo ships, and it is equipped with booms and barriers at its entrance to ward off unmanned surface vessels (USVs) and other forms of surface/subsurface threats.

Rumors suggest that the Novocherkassk was loaded with munitions supplied by Iran. Regardless, these vessels, initially designed for beach assaults, have adopted various roles in Russia’s protracted war with Ukraine, which has spanned nearly two years. These roles encompass everything from cargo transportation to ferry services. The Ropucha fleet has been globally active, ferrying material from across the globe to Russia’s Black Sea ports.

The Ropucha fleet has endured substantial damage throughout the conflict, with several vessels severely impaired by Ukrainian strikes. If the Novocherkassk were laden with munitions and weaponry, it would have been a prime target for Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainian Air Force’s Su-24 Fencers could have deployed Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG cruise missiles, which would have been the logical weapon choice in this scenario.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has confirmed that the Novocherkassk was at least impaired in an attack involving a Ukrainian air-launched cruise missile. However, there is no official statement regarding the extent of the damage. The Ukrainian Air Force’s latest social media post includes the Novocherkassk and 13 Iranian-designed Shahed-series one-way attack drones that it also claims to have destroyed overnight.