Weeks after Russia’s only aircraft carrier was involved in a mishap that saw the dry dock it was being serviced in catch fire and sink, Russian officials have announced that the massive crane that collapsed onto the carrier’s flight deck has finally been removed.
“The crane was completely removed from the deck of the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov,” the Kremlin announced via state-owned media. Now that the crane has finally been removed, work could theoretically begin on bringing the carrier back into sea-worthy shape, though that’s actually quite unlikely. In fact, chances are good that the Admiral Kuznetsov may never sail again.
The Soviet era, diesel-powered carrier was already seen by many as an embarrassment to Moscow, thanks to a number of high-profile breakdowns that led to the Kremlin’s decision to have an ocean-going tug accompany the carrier on all voyages. It had been aboard Russia’s only floating dry dock that was large enough to support a carrier of its size undergoing much-needed maintenance and updating, but budgetary issues have repeatedly delayed the ship’s planned return to service.
“We have alternatives actually for all the ships except for [the aircraft carrier] Admiral Kuznetsov,” Alexei Rakhmanov, head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, told Russian state media. “As for the ships of the first rank … the Admiral Kuznetsov, [the loss of the PD-50 floating dock] creates certain inconveniences.”