|→ Soviet Union → Russia|
|Name:||Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza N.G. Kuznetsov (Russian: Адмира́л Фло́та Сове́тского Сою́за Н.Г. Кузнецо́в)|
|Ordered:||3 March 1981|
|Laid down:||1 April 1982 |
|Launched:||6 December 1985 |
|Commissioned:||25 December 1990[N 1]
(Fully operational in 1995)
|Refit:||May – August 2015|
|Status:||in active service|
|Class and type:||Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier|
|Draft:||10 m (33 ft)|
|Speed:||29 knots (33 mph; 54 km/h)|
|Range:||8,500 nmi (15,700 km) at 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)|
She was originally commissioned in the Soviet Navy, and was intended to be the lead ship of her class, but the only other ship of her class, Varyag, was never completed or commissioned by the Soviet, Russian or Ukrainian navy. This second hull was eventually sold to the People's Republic of China by Ukraine, completed in Dalian and launched as Liaoning. Kuznetsov was named after the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov.
RoleWhile designated an aircraft carrier by the West, the design of Admiral Kuznetsov-class implies a mission different from that of either the United States Navy's carriers or those of the Royal Navy. The term used by her builders to describe the Russian ships is tyazholyy avianesushchiy kreyser (TAVKR) – "heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser" – intended to support and defend strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships, and naval missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian Navy.
The carrier also carries the Kamov Ka-27 and Kamov Ka-27S helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and small transport.
For take-off of fixed wing aircraft, Admiral Kuznetsov uses a ski-jump at the end of her deck. On take-off aircraft accelerate toward and up the ski-jump using their afterburners. This results in the aircraft leaving the deck at a higher angle and elevation than on an aircraft carrier with a flat deck and catapults. The ski-jump take-off is less demanding on the pilot, since the acceleration is lower, but results in a clearance speed of only 120–140 km/h (75–85 mph) requiring an aircraft design which will not stall at those speeds.
The cruiser role is facilitated by Admiral Kuznetsov's complement of 12 long-range surface-to-surface anti-ship Granit (SS-N-19) (NATO name: Shipwreck) cruise missiles. As a result, this armament is the basis for the ship's Russian type designator of "heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser".
From 23 December 1995 through 22 March 1996 Admiral Kuznetsov made her first 90-day Mediterranean deployment with 13 Su-33, 2 Su-25 UTG, and 11 helicopters aboard. The deployment was to allow the carrier, which was accompanied by a frigate, destroyer and oiler, to adapt to the Mediterranean climate and to perform continuous flight operations until 21:00 each day, as the Barents Sea only receives about one hour of sunlight during this time of year. This cruise marked the 300th anniversary of the Russian Navy celebrated in 1996. During that period the carrier lay at anchor off the port of Tartus, Syria. Her aircraft often made flights close to the Israeli shore line and were intercepted by Israeli F-16s. During the deployment, a severe water shortage occurred due to evaporators breaking down.
At the end of 1997 she remained immobilized in a Northern Fleet shipyard, awaiting funding for major repairs, which were halted when they were only 20% complete. The overhaul was completed in July 1998, and the ship returned to active service in the Northern fleet on 3 November 1998.
From 5 December 2007 through 3 February 2008 Kuznetsov made its second Mediterranean deployment. On 11 December 2007, Kuznetsov passed by Norwegian oil platforms in the North Sea, 60 nautical miles (110 km) outside Bergen, Norway. Su-33 fighters and Kamov helicopters were launched from Kuznetsov while within international waters; Norwegian helicopter services to the rigs were halted due to the collision risk with the Russian aircraft. Kuznetsov later participated in an exercise on the Mediterranean Sea, together with 11 other Russian surface ships and 47 aircraft, performing three tactical training missions using live and simulated air and surface missile launches. Kuznetsov and its escorts returned to Severomorsk on 3 February 2008. Following maintenance, she returned to sea on 11 October 2008 for the Stability-2008 strategic exercises held in the Barents Sea, during which the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev visited her on 12 October 2008.
From 5 December 2008 through 2 March 2009, Kuznetsov made its third Mediterranean deployment. On 5 December 2008, she and several other vessels left Severomorsk for the Atlantic for a combat training tour, including joint drills with Russia's Black Sea Fleet and visits to several Mediterranean ports. On 7 January 2009, a small fire broke out onboard Kuznetsov while anchored off Turkey. The fire, caused by a short-circuit, led to the death of one crew member by carbon monoxide poisoning. On 16 February 2009, she, along with other Russian naval vessels, was involved in a large oil spill while refuelling off the south coast of Ireland. On 2 March 2009, Kuznetsov returned to Severomorsk. In September 2010 Kuznetsov left dry dock after scheduled repairs and preparations for a training mission in the Barents Sea later that month.
2011–12 Mediterranean deployment
In May 2014, the ship and its task group: the Kirov-class nuclear-powered cruiser Petr Velikiy; three tankers; Sergey Osipov, Kama and Dubna; one ocean-going tug Altay and the tank-landing ship Minsk (a Ropucha-class landing ship part of the Black Sea Fleet sailed home and approached the UK.
Although financial and technical problems have resulted in limited operations for the ship, it is expected that Admiral Kuznetsov will remain in active duty until at least 2030.
Mid-life refitIn April 2010, it was announced that by the end of 2012 the ship would enter Severodvinsk Sevmash shipyard for a major refit and modernisation, reportedly to include upgrades to obsolete electronics and sensor equipment, installation of a new anti-aircraft system and increase of the air wing by the removal of the P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles; it was thought possible that the refit would also include exchanging the troublesome steam powerplant to gas-turbine or even nuclear propulsion and installation of catapults to the angled deck.
According to the newspaper Bulletin Reports, the Russian Navy expected to buy the Mikoyan MiG-29K aircraft for Admiral Kuznetsov by 2011; this intent was confirmed by the general designer of one of the defence enterprises which produces sub-assemblies for these aircraft. These would replace the 19 carrier-based Su-33 fighters, a resource set to expire by 2015. Producing more Su-33s is possible but not cost-effective for such small volumes; the MiG-29K is more convenient as the Indian Navy placed an order a total for 45, reducing development and manufacture costs. India paid $730 million for the development and delivery of 16 MiG-29Ks; 24 more for the Russian Navy would cost about $1 billion.
The carrier will reportedly start an overhaul and modernisation in the first quarter of 2017. This is expected to extend its service life by 25 years.
2016 deploymentIn early July 2016, upon completion of a refit, it was reported by Russian media that Admiral Kuznetsov would be deployed in the Mediterranean in October that year to serve as a platform for carrying out airstrikes in Syria. This would be the first time a Russian (or Soviet) aircraft carrier has seen combat. On September 19, 2016 it was announced that the deployment would be delayed due to unspecified reasons. It is thought that Russia suffers from a lack of carrier-qualified pilots for the new MiG 29KR. On October 17, the Admiral Kuznetsov and seven other Russian navy vessels including the nuclear powered battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy were reported passing the Norwegian island of Andøya, en route to the Mediterranean Sea for operations in the war in Syria, passing through the English Channel on October 21. The carrier is accompanied by an ocean-going tugboat as it is plagued by technical problems.
- According to Defense Daily, the ship was commissioned on 21 January 1991.
- "Belching smoke through the Channel, Russian aircraft carrier so unreliable it sails with its own breakdown tug". The Telegraph. October 22, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2016.