Comprehensive Guide to Russia’s Sole Aircraft Carrier

According to the U.S. Naval Institute, the Russian carrier hasn’t had the most active service history — at least, not one that includes a lot of time being a functional part of the country’s Navy. It’s estimated that Kuznetsov spent around 15 days per year in active deployment, spending much time in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The final deployment in 2016 was symbolic of her service, as two aircraft crashed during an attempted landing. By 2017, the Kuznetsov was pulled from service and scheduled for repairs that may never be finished.

Though the Russian Navy has every intent of fixing the carrier and returning it to sea, there’s been no such luck. In 2018, a crane collapsed onto her deck during an overhaul in Kola Bay. Though the floating dock began to sink, the Kuznetsov was rescued and suffered minimal damage. During the following year, her engine room caught fire after a welding accident, resulting in two deaths and 14 injuries. That incident was followed by a power outage and damage to the drydock, which further delayed repairs.

As of July 2023, Russia’s news agency, TASS, confirmed the ship was planning to enter into sea trials by spring 2024. As of June 2024, there has been no update, and, as Russia is engaged with Ukraine in an ongoing conflict, it’s possible it won’t return to service anytime soon.

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