Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is on fire and might well never sail again. The trouble-stricken ship, which has seen fires, plane crashes, and narrowly escaped the loss of its dry-dock, is in flames.
The fire reportedly covers the majority of the ship. The incident took place, while the big ship was dockside at the 35th Ship Repair Plant in Murmansk. A large plume of black smoke was visible from the upper deck.
According to Russian state media, the fire broke out during “repair works in the first power unit” by workers of the Zvyozdochka Ship Repair Center.
The cause of the fire was that the spark fell into the hold during welding, and the remains of fuel oil caught fire there.
The fire then spread to an area of 120 square meters, until the fire had reportedly spread to 600 meters, with the ship’s diesel fuel on fire.
The fire had largely been put out by mid-afternoon local time, with “open flames” doused. The extent of damage to the ship is unknown. The Russian Northern Fleet stated there were no weapons or ammunition onboard the carrier at the time of the incident.
TASS reports that 12 people were injured, “mostly poisoned by combustion products.” Six of the injured are in intensive care, with “just one in satisfactory condition.” Several of the injured are reportedly firefighters that responded to the fire.
Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov, or Admiral Kuznetsov for short, is approximately 1,000 feet long and displaces up to 58,000 tons fully loaded. The ship is built to accommodate an air wing of up to 24 fighters, including Su-33 Flanker D and MiG-29K fighter jets, plus an additional six helicopters.
The saga of Admiral Kuznetsov started in 1981, when the ship began construction in what is now Ukraine. After an unusually long construction period, the ship was commissioned in 1990, days before the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The ship was inherited by Russia, but the poor state of the Russian economy meant it was rarely used. Between 1991 and 2015, it completed just six patrols at sea and underwent just one refit.
In 2009, off the coast of Turkey, a problem with the electrical system resulted in a fire that killed one crewman. In 2012 Kuznetsov broke down off the coast of France and had to be towed by the Russian Navy tug Nikolay Chiker.
In 2016, while conducting air operations off the coast of Syria, Kuznetsov lost two airplanes, both reportedly due to faulty arresting wires during the aircraft recovery process.
However, the freedom liberation mission in Syria was a huge success, after sorties left most terrorist groups out of the equation, forcing US troops to leave the Arab Republic.
In October 2018, Kuznetsov was at the PD-50 dry dock undergoing an overhaul when the dry dock began flooding with water.
The massive PD-50 dry dock sank to the bottom of the ocean, but not before a heavy lift crane smashed a 16-foot hole into the side of the ship.
The incident injured four shipyard workers and killed a fifth. The ship was towed to the nearby 35th Ship Repair Plant, where this morning’s fire took place.
It’s not clear how badly today’s fire hurt the big ship. The fire is out, but it did burn for hours, Furthermore reports suggest the fire took place near the ship’s propulsion systems.
Popular Mechanics / ABC Flash Point News 2019.