“dirty oil” for fuel, fires and falling cranes

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Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, should be a symbol of the military power of the largest country in the world. However, far from being a deterrent tool, like the nuclear arsenal of 1,600 strategic weapons or the “Kinzhal” hypersonic missiles, it is a ship that seems to have fallen from grace. Design flaws, dirty fuel that accuses its presence and accidents.

Now Admiral Kuznetsov is out of commission. She waits patiently at the 35th Repair Shipyard in Murmansk, in northwestern Russia, where she will undergo a major upgrade consisting of various repairs, the replacement of her boilers and some of her equipment. If all goes well he will sail again in 2024, but why did he end up there and have such a bad reputation?

Admiral Kuznetsov, the “cursed” ship

The aircraft carrier was built in the former Ukrainian SSR during the 1980s. It was christened in 1985, but entered service in 1995, when the fall of the Soviet Union occurred in the midst of final tests and subsequent certification. In August 1991, the independent Ukraine claimed ownership of the aircraft carrier, but remained in the Soviet fleet and later became part of Russia.

Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier

With an approximate full load displacement of 66,600 tons, a length of 270 meters, 30 mm AK-630 rotary automatic cannons, Kashtan CIWS air defense systems, P-700 Granit cruise missiles, 3K95 Kinzhal missiles, UDAV-1 rocket launchers, Among other weapons, Admiral Kuznetsov is tasked with supporting and defending strategic submarines, surface ships, and naval missile carriers.

It has been designed to house 24 aircraft, mainly Su-33 Flanker D fighters (they have the ability to take off without catapults) and MiG-29s, and Kamov Ka-27 helicopters. Although, it usually sails with fewer units, about ten Su-33 and five MiG-29. It has 3 launch pads without catapults, with 3 air deflectors that rise from the deck. The US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), for example, has the capacity to carry some 75 aircraft.

The carrier has been called “The Ship of Shame” by former British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.

Unlike most Western military vessels, which are powered by gas turbines or nuclear reactors, the Admiral Kuznetsov is powered by conventional propulsion. What is unconventional is the fuel it uses. This is Mazut, a low quality tarred fuel oil used in power plants. Due to its characteristics, it is difficult to obtain in countries with strict environmental regulations, so its production and use is almost exclusively limited to Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

But not all Russian ships work with Mazut. In addition to their aircraft carrier, the Sovremenny-class destroyers also sail on this fuel considered “dirty oil”. Generally, these types of boats leaves a trail of black smoke in its wakewhat tends to arouse the curiosity of some people. In fact, the former British defense secretary, Michael Fallon, described the aircraft carrier as “the ship of shame” when it sailed near British shores in 2017.

Admiral Kuznetsov has also been called “faint-hearted”, due to low shipbuilding standards. According to an article published on the Russian site VZthose responsible for the project made many mistakes, including the installation of poor quality pipes in the boilers, which limits their capacity.

Admiral Kuznetsov a “faint-hearted” aircraft carrier.

However, these are just some of the reasons why Admiral Kuznetsov has such a bad reputation. In 2009, with the aim of demonstrate their military resurgenceRussia had sent it along with other ships to sail to different parts of the world, but when they were at the Aksaz naval base of the Turkish navy, on the southeast coast of the Aegean Sea, the aircraft carrier caught fire due to electrical failure and a sailor was killed.

In 2012, while sailing off the coast of France, the aircraft carrier suffered a failure in its propulsion system, forcing Moscow to send a tugboat to rescue it. When nothing could get worse, in 2016 she lost two planes due to a series of problems in the arrest system. On November 14 of that year, a MiG-29K crashed while attempting to land. Two weeks later, On December 5thSu-33 fell into the ocean.

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After this series of misfortunes, the carrier returned to Russia for maintenance, but things did not improve. in 2019 a crane fell on the ship during repair work by opening a hole in the cover. The accident occurred after the interruption of the electrical supply to the floating dry dock where it was located. The pumps stopped working and the structure, known as PD-50, sank. Of course, it was not just another structure, it was the largest Russian floating dock and one of the largest in the world.

But Admiral Kuznetsov’s losing streak also hit this structure. After the accident, the aircraft carrier managed to stay afloat, but the floating dock began to slowly submerge. Unfortunately the shipyard workers were unable to move it and It is currently submerged at a depth of about 60 meters.. This was a direct blow to Russia, which used these facilities for the maintenance and repair of its largest warships.

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Later that year, the carrier caught fire again. This time while a team of welders was working on the first power unit. According to TASS, the area affected by smoke and fire covered 500 square meters. One person died and a dozen were injured. Now, as mentioned above, it is waiting in another shipyard for various repairs and a major upgrade. as collected Reutersthe ship, at the earliest, could return to service in 2024.

Pictures | Royal Navy | Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation | Christopher Michel (Flickr)

Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, should be a symbol of the military power of the largest country in…

Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, should be a symbol of the military power of the largest country in…

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