The Flagship Carrier Of The Russian Navy: Admiral Kuznetsov

Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov (“Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov”, originally the name of the fifth Kirov-class battlecruiser) is an aircraft carrier (heavy aircraft cruiser in Russian classification) serving as the flagship of the Russian Navy. She was built by the Black Sea Shipyard, the sole manufacturer of Soviet aircraft carriers, in Nikolayev within the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) in the late 1980s.

The hull design is based on the earlier Admiral Gorshkov, launched in 1982, but is larger, with a full load displacement of 58,500t compared to 40,400t. The Admiral Kuznetsov supports strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships and maritime missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian fleet.  Admiral Kuznetsov can carry 24 aircraft and its main fixed-wing aircraft is the multi-role Sukhoi Su-33. It can perform air superiority, fleet defence, and air support missions and can also be used for direct fire support of amphibious assault, reconnaissance and placement of naval mines. The cruiser role is facilitated by Kuznetsov’s complement of 12 long-range surface-to-surface anti-ship Granit (SS-N-19) (NATO name Shipwreck) cruise missiles. This armament justifies the ship’s Russian type designator “heavy aircraft carrying missile cruiser”.

As of March 2021, Admiral Kuznetsov is out of service for a refit. The ship has developed a reputation as a cursed ship as the carrier hasn’t fared well in recent years. In 2009, an electrical fire killed one crewman. In 2012, the ship broke down off the coast of France and had to be towed by the navy tug Nikolay Chiker. In 2016, Kuznetsov lost two airplanes in two weeks, both reportedly due to faulty arresting wires during the aircraft recovery process. Admiral Kuznetsov on fire, December 2019. The fire killed two and extended the ship’s refit. That’s not all. In 2018, the ship was damaged when a sinking drydock knocked a hole in it, which complicated planned upgrades. In 2019, Kuznetsov caught fire, suffering millions in damages. The aircraft carrier is currently docked at the Zvezdochka ship repair yard in Severodvinsk and expected to embark on sea trials in 2022.

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