Losses and Aviation Safety

Huge Fire breaks out on Russia’s only Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. Two People Missing.

Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov caught fire during repairs while docked at the Barents Sea port of Murmansk. Fuel is reportedly burning aboard the ship.

A huge fire has broken out on Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier.

State-run news agencies have warned the fire is spreading and is currently covering 600 square meters (6,460 square feet) of the huge ship, an emergency services source told TASS.

The ship caught fire during repairs while docked at the Barents Sea port of Murmansk. Fuel is reportedly burning aboard the ship.

Workers have been evacuated from the burning vessel. Six people have been injured, while two are missing, the source said. One shipyard worker is said to have sustained a head trauma.

Separately, a source told TASS that a naval officer and a sailor are among the injured.

Aleksey Rakhmanov, head of the state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation, told Interfax that “a human factor” could be the cause of the fire.

The press service of the Zvyozdochka ship repair centre said the specialists working onboard the vessel had been evacuated.

Admiral Kuznetsov is Russia’s only aircraft carrier. It has been undergoing repairs and maintenance since 2017, after completing a mission in the eastern Mediterranean, where the vessel took part in the country’s campaign in Syria.

Noteworthy on Oct. 30, 2018, Admiral Kuznetsov was damaged when Russia’s biggest floating dry dock, the PD-50, sank and one of the dock’s 70-ton cranes crashed onto the ship’s flight deck leaving behind a 200 square foot hole in the flight deck. One person was reported missing and four injured as the dry dock sank in Kola Bay. Admiral Kuznetsov was in the process of being removed from the dock when the accident happened, and was towed to a nearby yard after the accident. The cost for repairs of the damage was estimated to 70 million rubles (about 1 million dollars) and should not affect the timing of the currently underway overhaul and modernization of the ship. Although it is unclear how the overhaul and repair schedule would not be affected with the dry dock sunk.

The fallen crane was removed within two to three months. In late May 2019, seven months later, information posted on Digital Forensic Research Lab’s blog suggested that repair work of the aircraft carrier was underway.

Admiral Kuznetsov was originally commissioned in the Soviet Navy, and was intended to be the lead ship of the two-ship Kuznetsov class. However, its sister ship Varyag was still incomplete when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The second hull was eventually sold by Ukraine to the People’s Republic of China, completed in Dalian and commissioned as Liaoning.

Photo credit: Twitter

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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