Admiral Kuznetsov: Will the only Russian aircraft carrier sail again?
Admiral Kuznetsov: Will the only Russian aircraft carrier sail again?

Admiral Kuznetsov: The “Damned” Russian Aircraft Carrier Finally Left Dry Dock Earlier This Month. It was a major milestone for the Russian Navy’s only aircraft carrier, which has been undergoing a refit since 2018.

However, as Naval News reported last week, maintenance on the warship will continue throughout this year, and it won’t be until at least some time in the first half of 2024 when the ship is ready to begin her sea trials.

At this point, Admiral Kuznetsov is likely to be able to re-enter service late next year, provided it avoids any further mishaps.

Admiral Kuznetsov: Are major repairs over?

The operation to remove the aircraft carrier from the dry dock could be carried out after the completion of repairs to the underwater section of the ship’s hull.

Images of the aircraft carrier leaving the Murmansk dry dock spread on social media, where the ship was widely mocked. It is true that the ship has not had a stellar service record. On more than one occasion, she spilled hundreds of tons of fuel into the sea while she was refueling.

Mediocre service

The Russian Navy’s flagship rarely sailed before its recent operations and was hauled back to the dock on multiple occasions. The flattop could only stay afloat for 45 days, and there are just a few ports in Russia where the cruise could run all year.

It was also designed with a bow ramp to launch fighters, even though Russian fighters are not built for it.

On one of its deployments, the US Navy raised serious concerns that the carrier could wobble in rough seas, while on its most recent deployment, which ended in 2017, it suffered two embarrassing plane crashes on board

Even though Admiral Kuznetsov has been in service since 1991 and is largely deemed “morally and technically outmoded,” Moscow lacks the resources and shipbuilding capabilities to build a new one, so it has instead embarked on what has become a lengthy refurbishment adventure.

prolonged renewal

Originally, the overhaul would last only two years, extending the vessel’s lifespan by a decade. However, things went awry almost immediately when in October 2018, a power failure in the floating dry dock pumps caused a catastrophic accident in which a 70-tonne crane fell onto the ship’s flight deck.  One worker was killed, and the carrier sustained extensive damage.

Even worse was the fact that the 330-meter-long PD-50 drydock sank, seriously affecting the completion date of the overhaul.

A few weeks later, a fire broke out on the ship, which caused two deaths and 14 injuries. This forced Admiral Kuznetsov to be towed to the Severomorsk Repair Shipyard 35, a subsidiary of the “Zwiezdochka” Repair Center based in Severodvinsk.

It appears that progress is being made toward finishing the retrofit after years of setbacks and a number of major accidents. Of course, it’s reasonable to wonder if the wait was truly necessary.