According to Ukrainian officials, Russia’s Admiral Makarov was hit by a Ukrainian missile and caught fire.

Russia immediately denied this information. Speculation arose on May 6 about the fate of the Admiral Makarov frigate, after Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote on social media.

After the dramatic sinking of the missile-cruiser Moskva by a Ukrainian missile battery on April 14, the Russian Black Sea Fleet is down to just three major surface combatants. The best and most important of them might be the new missile-frigate Admiral Makarov.

There is no solid evidence of the rumors reaching Admiral Makarov, although a blurry video circulating online appears to depict a warship in flames. The video could be a fake. Ukraine’s Dumskaya website reported that Russian forces sent helicopters to rescue the sailors after the ship moved near Snake Island in the Black Sea. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that “we have no such information”.

Commissioned in 2017, the Admiral Makarav is the third, final and most modern ship in the Admiral Grigorovich class, with all three ships in the Black Sea Fleet. Armed with 24 Buk medium-range surface-to-air missiles and eight Kalibr cruise missiles, all in vertical cells, the frigates can escort other vessels and also attack targets on land.

Admiral Makarov and her sisters are not big ships. Displacing just 4,000 tons of water and accommodating 200 crew, they’re less than half the size of the U.S. Navy’s main surface combatants, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. But the frigates are about as big as Russia can make a non-nuclear surface combatant these days, for reasons that—ironically—have everything to do with the current war. Throughout the Soviet era and for years after the USSR’s collapse, Russia acquired its big marine engines from Ukraine. And things with the Russian shipbuilding industry became difficult after 2014. Russia currently cannot build large warships.


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