Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the oft-incapacitated Admiral Kuznetsov, was damaged this week in an accident. The ship was laid up at the Murmansk shipyards for another refit when the dry dock it was in lost power and sank, causing a large crane to shift and gouge a nearly 5 meter long hole in the hull.
The Swedish-built PD-50 floating dry dock sank while the carrier was being floated out, apparently after its power cables were damaged by ice. The dock suffered heavy damage as well, and its recovery and repair is in doubt, leaving the PD-190 on the Black Sea as the only other dock large enough to accommodate Russia’s only aircraft carrier.
Built in 1985 but not commissioned until 1990, the Kuznetsov has earned a reputation as a cursed ship, suffering fires, spills, and all manner of accidents. It is often followed on its rare deployments by an ocean-going tug, as its engines are notoriously unreliable, and the ship’s plumbing is often shut down as it is not weatherproofed.
The carrier was subsequently towed to another shipyard at Murmansk, where its refit continues, expected to be complete some time in 2021.