The flagship of the Russian Federation’s surface fleet, the Admiral Kuzetsov, is set to begin a fresh two year refit. The Cold War Carrier entered service in 1981, and has suffered perennial problems with her boilers and steam turbines.
The Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov has an air wing of around 40 fixed and rotary aircraft and a crew of nearly 1,700. Since the end of the Cold War, however, Russia’s carriers have been beset by technical problems.
The latest upgrade will focus on replacing and repairing the ship’s boilers and steam turbines. The refit will also reportedly include improvements to the vessel’s electronics suite.
A deal has been signed with Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (OCK) to refit Russia’s only carrier. Milmag report that estimates are between 55 and 62 billion Rubles, roughly equivalent to $880 million and $994 million.
In a press release OCK said:
“The contract for the modernization of the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Soviet Union Fleet Admiral Kuznetsov has been signed by all the parties and USC subsidiary Zvyozdochka shipyard has begun to implement it. The amount and deadline are not disclosed.”
The refit will take place at the Zvyozdochka shipyard in north west Russia. Russia’s Soviet-era carriers were constructed in Ukraine and Russia has lost valuable expertise and capabilities. As a result the refit will be limited with the Kuznetsov’s turbines set to be replaced by steam rather than gas turbines. An estimated 1,000 staff, engineers and technicians will be involved in the refit.
The refit is said to be accelerated and is set to take just two years to complete. The carrier recently completed a much reported tour of operations in the Mediterranean, in support of Russia’s actions in Syria. The Kuznetsov’s combat effectiveness, however, appears to be minimal, but with Russia many years from having a viable modern replacement carrier in service the Cold War relic remains the Russian Navy’s primary naval aviation platform and centre for skills development and retention.