14 Dec 2019 14:38

Initial damage assessment of Admiral Kuznetsov fire may be given next week - USC head

MOSCOW. Dec 14 (Interfax) - The preliminary assessment of the damage caused by the fire on board the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier may be given in the middle of the next week, United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) head Alexei Rakhmanov told Interfax.

"The preliminary [understanding of the damage is may be made] in the middle of next week," Rakhmanov said.

Answering a question as to how this situation will impact the deadline of the ship's commissioning, he said, "I won't say anything until we enter the damaged areas and survey the defects."

A fire broke out on board the Admiral Kuznetsov, which is under repair in Murmansk, on December 12. The firefighting operation lasted 24 hours. The incident happened in the course of welding works. The press service for the Northern Fleet reported the death of a contract serviceman, who was helping extinguish the fire. It later said that the body of the second fatality, an officer of the cruiser's damage control section, was found.

A criminal case was opened on the counts of violations of safety rules in construction and other works.

The fire might have been caused by a human error made in the course of scheduled welding works, Rakhmanov told Interfax earlier. "The incident happened in the course of scheduled welding works. Scale fell on lower decks. A fire started locally because of the presence of dismantled equipment and flammable liquids on the deck. Equipment has been dismantled, and flammable objects, liquids and their remains, which have not been removed for some reason, have been there. This is a human factor," Rakhmanov said.

The government contract with the Zvyozdochka shipyard to restore and upgrade the aircraft carrier was signed in April 2018. USC promised to return the cruiser to the Northern Fleet in 2022.

The heavy aircraft carrier cruiser was launched at the Black Sea Shipyard in Mykolaiv in 1982 and set afloat in 1987. Its previous names were Sovetsky Soyuz (at the design stage), Riga (launching and setting afloat), Leonid Brezhnev (overhaul stage), and Tbilisi (during the tests). It was named after Admiral of the Soviet Union Fleet Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov in 1990.

The ship can carry more than 50 aircraft and is armed with Granit anti-ship cruise missiles, the Klinok and Kashtan air defense missile and missile-and-artillery systems, an automatic artillery weapon system, and an anti-submarine system.

The carrier returned to Severomorsk in February 2017 after a Mediterranean deployment which saw it deploying the Sukhoi Su-33 and Mikoyan MiG-29KR fighter aircraft to Syria for the first time. According to official data, the Admiral Kuznetsov lost two jets on the way. The accidents occurred during their landing, the pilots ejected.

In the early hours of October 30, 2018, one of the world's biggest floating dry docks, PD-50, sank at Shipyard No. 82 (in Roslyakovo, near Murmansk) as the Admiral Kuznetsov was making its way out of it. One of the dock's cranes fell on the carrier's deck.