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There have been a number of reports that another Russian warship was hit with an explosion close to the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Wednesday. The cause of the blast and the extent of any damage isn’t clear, according to multiple military information sources.

The Pavel Derzhavin is one of the Russian navy’s newest Type 22160 corvettes, a 94-meter-long patrol ship with a deadweight of 1,500 tons and equipped with Kalibr anti-ship missiles.

Russian social media platforms reported an explosion close to the vessel around 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, as it sailed near the entrance to the Sevastopol harbor, the traditional home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF).

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Russian officials later in the day announced that all public transportation in Sevastopol city, including local ferries, would be shut down for unspecified reasons.

Ukrainian navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk, in comments to Radio Liberty and on his Telegram channel which were widely reported across Ukrainian media said that officials in Kyiv were aware that the Pavel Derzhavin had been hit, but the cause and extent of any damage was unclear. 

Anton Gerashchenko, an Interior Ministry spokesman, in a Wednesday afternoon statement said Ukrainian intelligence sources confirmed the fact of the explosion but the cause was unknown. He suggested that it was possible that a Ukrainian missile or long-range drone was responsible for the strike.

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Serhiy Bratchiuk, head of the regional defense command in Ukraine’s western Odesa region, in statements carried by local media said that according to his sources the most likely cause was that the Pavel Derzhavin had struck a Russian sea mine protecting the Sevastopol harbor. Ukrainian intelligence operatives were still investigating, he said.

Russian language Wikipedia had, by Wednesday evening, written the ship off as a total loss and closed the page dedicated to the vessel.

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The Pavel Derzhavin was built in the Kerch shipyard, a construction facility taken from Ukraine following Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014. The ship was commissioned at the end of 2020 and joined the BSF in June 2022, four months after the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The ship primarily carries Kalibr long-range cruise missiles and Tor anti-aircraft radar. According to naval analysts the primary missions of the Type 22160 corvette class, pre-war are patrol of territorial waters, anti-submarine warfare and cargo ship escort.

BSF commanders having faced rising losses of some of its larger warships during the course of Russia’s war against Ukraine have increasingly turned to vessels such as Type 22160 corvettes, that were designed for primarily coastal work, to conduct deep water operations including fleet air defense or the launching of long-range cruise missiles at Ukrainian homes and businesses hundreds of kilometers inland.

Kyiv Post was unable to determine whether the Pavel Derzhavin and its crew have participated in missile attacks on land targets in Ukraine.

The most serious Russian navy loss to date was the BSF’s flagship, the cruiser Moskva, a warship some eight times larger and more capable than the Pavel Derzhavin, which was sunk by two Ukrainian anti-ship missiles in an Apr. 14 2022 ambush.

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On Wednesday the open-source naval observer @MT_Anderson, highlighted satellite imagery that showed a Russian Type 22160 corvette, most likely the Pavel Derzhavin’s sister ship the Sergey Kotov, in a drydock in the Russian port Novorossiysk with substantial damage to its stern.

It is considered likely that the damage to the Sergey Kotov resulted from being struck by a Ukrainian water-borne kamikaze drone during a Sep. 14 night attack on Sevastopol harbor. Russian information platforms confirmed the attempted Ukrainian drone raid on Sevastopol port, at the time, but claimed all of the unmanned boats had been destroyed and no Russian vessels were damaged.

Anglo/French cruise missiles fired by Ukraine struck Russian naval facilities in Sevastopol with devastating effect on Sep. 13, destroyed an attack submarine and an amphibious assault ship in drydock. Russian naval repair capacity in both Novorossiysk and Sevastopol is now overtaxed with more damaged warships than the BSF has drydocks to repair them.

If the Pavel Derzhavin was seriously damaged, it would have to wait for drydock space to be freed up before repairs could begin, naval observers said.

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