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Why Would Russia Bring Back Its ‘Dumpster Fire’ Aircraft Carrier?

Russia Admiral Kuznetsov
Russia's Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Admiral Kuznetsov Comeback? Russia Claims Aircraft Carrier Repairs Now on Schedule: On schedule” has been used to describe the progress of many Russian military programs, even as there have been repeated delays, mishaps and at times little to no progress actually being made. It can only be assumed that this is hyperbole – especially when it involves the flagship Project 1143.5 heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov (NATO reporting name: Kuznetsov-class).

Admiral Kuznetsov: The Aircraft Carrier with Nine Lives

The flagship Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov, Moscow’s sole aircraft carrier, has been out of service and in drydock for repairs since 2018.

Still, this week, officials said repairs are proceeding “on schedule” and the ship is set to be delivered to the Russian Navy in the first quarter of 2024.

“Work is in progress. We are doing everything that depends on us,” Alexei Rakhmanov, CEO of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) told reporters at last week’s Transport Week exhibition in Moscow.

“As usual, any repair, if you start doing it, is always rich in surprises… We start to deal with separate sections, and obstructions are found. We have to weld here and strengthen there. But the work is on schedule. We will do everything to make this happen.”

Rich in surprises would certainly describe the refit and upgrade for the carrier, which was damaged soon after arriving in port when a crane fell on her flight deck, killing a worker and injuring four more.

The carrier then suffered significant damage in late 2019 when a fire broke out in the engine room during a welding accident and engulfed a large section of the warship.

At least two individuals were killed, and upwards of 120 square meters on the ski-jump-type aircraft carrier were affected by smoke and fire.

The facility’s drydock, which has been absolutely vital to the repairs, was subsequently damaged during a power outage. Corruption has also been an issue, so much so that the director general of the shipyard overseeing the repairs was arrested for embezzlement of funds.

Progress is Being Made?

The original plan had been for Admiral Kuznetsov to be returned to service by 2020, but after the various mishaps, the schedule was revised accordingly.

Last year, USC Deputy CEO for Military Shipbuilding Vladimir Korolyov told TASS that the refit of the aircraft carrier would be completed by early 2023 and that the warship would rejoin the fleet the same year.

Clearly, the schedule had been modified again, and now the carrier is on track to be handed over to the Russian Navy by early 2024.

In June, Admiral Kuznetsov was transferred to an upgraded dry dock of the 35th Shipyard in Murmansk, which has reportedly been working overtime on the ship’s repairs.

When the vessel finally returns to service, she will likely serve another 10 to 15 years. It is just a matter of when that actually occurs. Or, as is the case often with Russian military equipment plans, if it occurs

Pictures of the Aircraft Carrier

Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov (Picture source: Военный Осведомитель)

Admiral Kuznetsov

Admiral Kuznetsov. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Admiral Kuznetsov:

Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s last aircraft carrier. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russia's Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier

Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Admiral Kuznetsov

Russian Navy Northern Fleet Press Office/TASS/Russian State Media

Russia Admiral Kuznetsov

Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Admiral Kuznetsov 

Admiral Kuznetsov. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

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