Russia's Cursed Carrier Is Coming Back to Sea. Maybe.
Category: News & PoliticsVia: flynavy1 • 4 weeks ago • 8 comments
By: Kyle Mizokami (MSN)
- Russian state media claims the country's only aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, will be ready for sea trials in 2022.
- Russia lacks the money and shipyards to build a replacement for Kuznetsov.
- Kuznetsov has suffered engine failures, fatal accidents, crashes, fires, and even embezzlement of funds to update the ship.
Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will reportedly emerge from its refit in 2022. That's at least according to Russian state media, which quotes an anonymous source in the country's shipbuilding industry.
The carrier, which has earned the reputation of a cursed ship, is in dire need of a replacement, but Russia lacks the funds and industrial capability to fully commit.
Kuznetsov is receiving a modest upgrade that will increase the number of Su-33 and MiG-29 strike fighters the ship can carry from 24 to 26, according to Business Insider. The $715 makeover also includes new electronic warfare, communications, and networking systems; new boilers and pumps; the Pantsir-M close-in weapon system; and new flight systems to aid in launching and recovering aircraft, Defense World reports. The ship will even receive a new $3.4 million paint job.
The Soviet Union built the Cold War-era Kuznetsov in what is now Ukraine. The Russian Navy inherited the ship after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but lacked the money to operate it at full capacity. While Kuznetsov began construction in 1981, it only conducted its first deployment at sea in 1996.
The carrier hasn't fared well in recent years. In 2009, an electrical fire killed one crewman. In 2012, the ship broke down off the coast of France and had to be towed by the navy tug Nikolay Chiker. In 2016, Kuznetsov lost two airplanes in two weeks, both reportedly due to faulty arresting wires during the aircraft recovery process.
© Lev Fedoseyev - Getty Images Admiral Kuznetsov on fire, December 2019. The fire killed two and extended the ship's refit.
That's not all. In 2018, the ship was damaged when a sinking drydock knocked a hole in it, which complicated planned upgrades. In 2019, Kuznetsovcaught fire, suffering millions in damages. And last year, the director of the shipyard servicing the ship was arrested for allegedly embezzling approximately $500,000 meant to clean the ship's fuel tanks.
Russia has announced several efforts over the past 15 years to build Kuznetsov's replacement. But the country lacks both the funds to invest in a fully modern ship, and the shipyard capacity to build such a large vessel. The result is a continued reliance on an old, decrepit warship that should have left service a long time ago.
Will Kuznetov really be ready for sea trials in 2022? Only time will tell.