Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, may be decommissioned if the Ministry of Defense and industry wouldn’t resolve the question of the replacing the PD-50 floating drydock needed to complete the repair of the ship hull, was reported by newspaper Izvestia, citing a source in the Russian Navy.
Russian Navy is considering prematurely decommission of its only aircraft carrier after then the PD-50 floating drydock that housed it sank.
In last year, a floating drydock holding the Admiral Kuznetsov sank following a power supply failure, causing one of the dock’s cranes to fall onto the carrier’s deck, leading to warship repair plant workers being injured. The incident left a 4×5-meter hole in the vessel’s flight deck.
Now the largest Russian Navy surface combatant ship is waiting for the decision of its fate near the wall of the 35th Repair Plant in Kola Bay near Murmansk.
Russia does not own a suitable replacement for PD-50 built-in 1980 in Sweden for the Soviet Navy.
Moreover, the project of the Russian aircraft carrier and before the tragedy caused a lot of controversies.
According to Popular Mechanics, over the last several decades, the Kuznetsov had already been beset by fires, budget cuts, and busted steam boilers. It’s so unreliable that a tugboat has been following it around on long voyages like a shadow.
Even before the PD-50 accident, a number of observers questioned the utility and expense of refurbishing the Kuznetsov. “In general, we need to critically review the domestic concept of the employment of carrier strike groups since Russia has undertaken to use the Admiral Kuznetsov to accomplish such missions,” Oleg Vladykin suggested in Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
Editor of the Moscow Defense Brief journal Mikhail Barabanov was dismissive of Kuznetsov’s upgrades. “Since Kuznetsov is not so much a combat platform as a training platform, deep modernization for her is an obvious excess.”
The Admiral Kuznetsov (heavy aircraft cruiser in Russian classification) was commissioned in 1990 and inherited by Russia upon the breakup of the USSR. The initial name of the ship was Riga; it was launched as Leonid Brezhnev, embarked on sea trials as Tbilisi, and finally named Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov after Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov.
In the immediate post–Cold War years, it rarely went to sea—conducting only six patrols between 1991 and 2015. In 2009, an electrical accident killed a crewman off the coast of Turkey. But Russia has repeatedly pushed the ship into service, and a 2016 mission off the coast of Syria saw the ship lose two jets in just three weeks.
At the moment, Russia does not have the technical and financial possibilities to restore its old aircraft carrier and also to build a series of new ones.