Friday, April 15, 2022

Fullbore Friday

Service selection. Warfare speciality. Rating/MOS. When you sign your name on the bottom line, except for certain circumstances, you really don't know where the "needs of the service" will take you.

You fill out your wish list and hope for the best.

We all know someone who wasn't all that excited about what their service had in store for them. I had a peer who came from a family of fighter pilots. He didn't pass the pilot physical for eye reasons, so wound up on the naval flight officer pipeline. This was when we still had A-6 and F-14, and that is where he thought he would save face.

Where did the Navy decided he was needed? 


He cried.

He then didn't tell anyone for awhile. Have no idea how his career worked out, but it didn't start very happy.

No one should ever feel that way. You run your odds, but in the end, you go where you are needed. You may think you're destined to be a terror ... but your Navy may need you to run the air picture. 

Somewhere just a couple of years ago, a young Ukrainian Naval officer had dreams of heading to sea. He always felt the draw of the sea, and though much of his nation's navy was lost when he was barely a teenager, he didn't care. 

He put together his wish list. He wanted to go to sea, but he'd be OK flying too.  Then service selection came.

Coastal defense.

There would be no going to sea. Yes, they'd have new kit, but why wear blue combat uniforms on land? He'll never command a ship. Heck, like chemical officers in the army, he probably will be lucky to make O5.

Well, he'll serve and do his best.

Then war came. His navy never had a chance to fight, mostly scuttled at the pier. His colleagues and fellow Sailors fighting were with marines or moving to Odessa ... but ... not him and his Sailors.

Their orders were simple; hide and wait. 

What little shoreline was still Ukrainian was under blockade. The Russian Black Sea Fleet and its flagship haunted the shoreline, shelled coastal villages - pretty much did what they wanted, where they wanted, when they wanted; and yet their orders remained the same; hide and wait.

In the two years before the war, our young Ukrainian naval officer ashore studied his rather unique warfare area and its history. If it were going to be his, well, he'd master it. 

He knew the story of Colonel Eriksen and his Norwegians guarding Oslo. He knew that unlike a lot of the equipment his countrymen were fighting Russians with, he had new equipment. He knew what he could do. He knew his Sailors and their equipment were ready. They kept their maintenance schedule. They trained. They ran through scenarios. They practiced until they were perfect, and then they practiced perfection. They can hide and wait. Let the Russians get overconfident. They will be ready.

Then, the call came.

Like they had done uncountable times before, they moved in to  their firing position. They went through the checklist.  They had their target's range, course, and speed.  Weapon selected. Master arm to arm. Intent to launch.

...and there they are;

The flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the missile cruiser Moskva, sunk on Thursday after large explosions shook the ship following what the Ukrainians claim was a missile attack on Wednesday.


The loss of a flagship during war can be devasting to a navy’s pride as well as national morale. This is further complicated by the fact that the ship was named for Russia’s capital.

This threat so vexed Adolf Hitler during World War II that he ordered the renaming of the heavy cruiser KMS Deutschland to Lützow in early 1940, recognizing that the loss of a warship named for the nation itself would be a devastating propaganda victory. This cautionary move was validated when, only three months later, a sister ship of the newly renamed Lützow, the KMS Blücher, was sunk by gunfire and torpedoes from Norwegian coastal defense batteries on April 9, 1940.

Blücher was the flagship of the German operation. Lützow was also damaged and forced to withdraw in the same battle. The loss of these German ships in the battle delayed Germany’s Norway conquest timetable, allowing the Norwegian royal family to escape and lead a government in exile. Blücher’s displacement was 18,500-tons, about half again as large as Moskva.

Some 42 years after the sinking of Blücher, a nuclear-powered Royal Navy attack submarine hit the Argentinian cruiser ARA General Belgrano with two torpedoes May 2, 1982, during the Falklands War. The General Belgrano, formerly, the USS Phoenix, a U.S. Navy light cruiser, sank with the loss of 323 of the ship’s 1,100 crew members. General Belgrano displaced 12,242-tons when loaded for battle, slightly smaller than Moskva.

From a practical perspective, the loss of the Moskva is significant, not only because it served as the Russian flagship, coordinating the Black Sea fleet, but also because the ship’s significant anti-air and anti-missile capabilities provided an air defense umbrella for the smaller ships around it. Consequently, the Russian amphibious threat to Odessa has virtually been eliminated, allowing Ukraine to redeploy forces assigned to the defense of that key port city to the battle to retake Kherson, about 90 miles to the east along the Black Sea coast.

Every service matters. Every warfare speciality matters. Line or staff - they all matter.

Be the best of where you are - and when history calls, you will be there to make it.

For their security, we may never know who was on the launch crew - and for that matter - I spent a lot of time looking for the name of the command(s) in the Ukrainian Navy where their coastal defense missiles are assigned. Can't find them. They have to have a patch.

They're navy, that I do know. However - like many of the small, unsexy but important things in a navy ... they seem to have been forgotten.


Maybe they will get their own stamp sometime. They deserve it.



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