Ukraine Claims a Russian Destroyer Caught Fire in the Barents Sea

Admiral Levchenko
Admiral Levchenko in Kola Bay (Russian Ministry of Defense file image)

Published Jun 13, 2024 4:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

A Russian destroyer has caught fire while under way in the Barents Sea and is "struggling for survival," according to Ukraine's armed forces. 

According to Dmytro Pletenchuk, spokesperson for Ukraine's Southern Defense Forces, the destroyer Admiral Levchenko suffered an engine room fire in the Barents Sea last week. He attributed it to lack of maintenance and proper spares, caused by Russia's inability to access Ukraine's shipbuilding industrial base. 

"This is what happens when a 'superpower' receives sanctions from Ukraine and cannot independently service engines produced in Mykolaiv. 10 years was not enough to solve this problem. One of the installations caught fire," Pletenchuk said. 

The Admiral Levchenko is an Udaloy-class antisubmarine warfare destroyer delivered to the Soviet Navy in 1988. Though constructed at a Russian shipyard, her four gas turbine engines (two D090 turbines and two DT59 turbines) were built in Ukraine's Zorya-Mashproekt plant. When Ukraine shut down defense exports to Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Russian Navy lost access to engine components to repair its Ukrainian-built powerplants. 

Russia has set up a production line for its own versions of these engines at the NPO Saturn plant, including a design to replace the D090. The initiative is part of a broader effort at import substitution to end dependence on Western-allied defense suppliers. As a sign of Russia's confidence in its success, its forces attacked and severely damaged the Zorya plant in March 2022, in the early weeks of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine; the plant, located in Mykolaiv, remains in Ukrainian hands. 

The fire aboard the Admiral Levchenko could not be immediately confirmed, and the Russian Ministry of Defense has not commented on the Ukrainian claim. 

Ukraine has damaged, sunk or destroyed about 15 Russian warships in the Black Sea, including the flagship Moskva. The effort has been successful enough that the Russian Navy has largely withdrawn to the northeastern corner, and the Black Sea Fleet is patrolling with submarines instead of surface ships for safety, according to Ukraine's armed forces. Though Admiral Levchenko is more than a thousand miles away from the front lines, Pletenchuk described the destroyer's apparent distress as another success. 

"Just so you understand, there are several hundred crew there. Not Moskva, of course, but not bad either," he said.