Russia’s only aircraft carrier damaged while undergoing repairs as floating dry dock sinks

The Admiral Kuznetsov, first launched during the Cold War, had been undergoing renovation work in Murmansk

Tom Barnes@thomas_barnes
Tuesday 30 October 2018 15:09
Drone footage captures site of floating dock that sunk damaging aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in Murmansk, Russia

Russia’s only aircraft carrier appears to have been damaged while undergoing repairs after the dry dock it was being held in sank.

One person is missing and four others injured following the incident involving the Admiral Kuznetsov, which had been receiving an upgrade at the one of the world’s largest floating docks in the Kola Bay near Murmansk.

Officials said the dock had sunk in the early hours of Tuesday morning due to a suspected power failure, while a crane had also crashed into the deck of the ship.

The aircraft carrier is thought to have been successfully removed before the dock sank and has since been taken to a different shipyard.

Speaking to Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency, Alexei Rakhmanov, head of Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation, said the ship’s hull and deck had been damaged.

However, Yevgeny Gladyshev, a spokesman for the shipyard where the Admiral Kuznetsov had been moored, claimed the falling crane had not hit any of the vessel’s key components.

“Despite an emergency, the Admiral Kuznetsov was floated. The schedule for its repairs was not disrupted,” he said.

Investigators announced they had opened a criminal investigation into the incident that would look at whether safety rules had been violated.

Marina Kovtun, Murmansk's governor, said in a statement a rescue operation had been launched and 71 people evacuated as the floating dock sank.

One person is unaccounted for and four others are being treated for hypothermia after being rescued from the water.

The Admiral Kuznetsov, a Cold War relic with a reputation for technical problems, had been due to undergo a renovation of its power and electronic systems.

The carrier, which first launched in 1985, was recently seen in military action in Syria during 2016 air strikes targeting rebels in Russia’s campaign supporting president Bashar al-Assad.

It gained notoriety in Britain as it returned from its Mediterranean mission through the English Channel in January 2017, leading then-defence secretary Michael Fallon to brand it the “ship of shame”.

The Admiral Kuznetsov remains Russia’s only aircraft carrier after construction on its planned sister ship, known initially as Riga and then Varyag, was abandoned following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

The vessel’s stripped-out hull was sold to a Chinese company by Ukraine in 1998 and later transferred to the Chinese Navy, which completed it for use as a training ship.

Additional reporting by AP

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