Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier Can’t Even Propel Itself: Ukraine
Renovations on the Russian Navy’s Admiral Kuznetsov have hit another snag with the ship in such poor condition that it cannot move under its own power, according to Ukraine’s defense ministry.
Equipped with anti-ship missile and air defense systems, the 1,000-foot warship is Russia’s only aircraft carrier, but it has been out of service and in dry dock for repairs since 2017.
The ship’s refurbishment is expected to extend its combat potential and increase its lifespan by another 10 to 15 years, but the process has been plagued by accidents, fires and corruption.
Outlining the latest setback, Ukraine’s defense ministry said on Monday that the ship being repaired at the Zvyozdochka shipyard in the Barents Sea port city of Murmansk in northwestern Russia was in an “emergency state”.
The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the northern Russian port city of Murmansk on May 19, 2018. Ukraine said on January 9, 2023 that it is unable to move under its own power as the ship faces a number of obstacles in its refurbishment. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/Getty Images
He said the ship was to be moved to another dock, but as it was getting ready to move “it became clear that the cruiser was unable to move under its own power”.
Kyiv said several tugboats were deployed, “however, this also proved impossible due to the critical condition of the ship’s hull,” according to a translation.
Ship repair specialists warned that the ship’s condition “does not allow it to be launched” for fear it will capsize and sink, he added. Ukraine also said dive teams found metal structures below the third deck corroded and the holds “completely filled” with muddy water, complicating examination of the ship’s interior.
Kyiv said those involved in the overhaul are trying to shift blame and Russian navy commanders fined the ship repair plant’s management 1.5 billion rubles ($21.5 million) for missing deadlines.
The ship’s renovation process has faced several setbacks, including most recently a fire last month, although there were no casualties.
In October 2018, Russia’s largest floating dry dock, the PD-50, sank, causing one of its 70-tonne cranes to crash into the ship’s flight deck. In December 2019, two crew members died and others were injured after a fire started in the pit that caused an estimated $8 million in damage.
In March 2021, the general director of the shipyard overseeing the repairs was arrested for embezzlement of funds amounting to 45 million rubles.
Alexei Rakhmanov, director general of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) which is overseeing the repairs, said in December, before the latest fire, that the ship was on track to be commissioned by 2024 .
Newsweek has reached out to USC and the Russian defense ministry for comment.