The sinking of Russia’s only drydock has scuppered plans to refit and repair their only aircraft carrier, leaving the country with the potential loss of the carrier Kuznetsov.
Russian officials earlier said that the accident wouldn’t delay efforts to repair the aircraft carrier, however officials have now admitted that Russia has found viable alternatives to the sunken dry dock for nearly all naval vessels, except for the Kuznetsov.
“We have alternatives actually for all the ships except for [the aircraft carrier] Admiral Kuznetsov,” Head of the United Ship-Building Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov told the state-run TASS news agency Wednesday.
“As for the ships of the first rank, … the Admiral Kuznetsov, [the loss of the PD-50 floating dock] creates certain inconveniences.”
The accident happened as the Admiral Kuznetsov was to be taken out of the dry dock. The ship has now been towed to the nearby Sevmorput Yard No 35, yard press spokesman Yevgeny Gladyshev told Interfax. He makes clear that a power outage was what caused the sinking of the dry-dock.
The carrier has a history of trouble. In November and December 2017, the carrier lost one Su-33 and one MiG-29KR, when both jets reportedly ditched into the sea. Problems with arresting gear were cited as the cause. In 2009, the aircraft carrier also lost a sailor when a fire broke out due to a short circuit.
The carrier started an overhaul and modernisation in the first quarter of 2017. This is expected to extend its service life by 25 years.
The loss of the dry dock and the damage to the Kuznetsov begs the question, is repair even worth it at this stage?