Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the long-troubled Admiral Kuznetsov, last saw action in 2016 in support of Pro-Assad forces in Syria.
That deployment proved embarrassing for the Russian military: it lost two aircraft as they attempted to land onto the ship’s flight deck. When its rotation was over, the Admiral skulked back to Russian waters spewing black smoke and accompanied by an ocean-going tugboat — just in case the old carrier couldn’t manage the trip under its own power.
Since then, things have only gotten worse — which is really saying something about a carrier once dubbed by the U.K.’s Defense Secretary, Michael Fallon, as the “Ship of Shame.”
The Admiral sat in dry dock, undergoing repairs and maintenance as its budget was repeatedly slashed, until last year when a fire broke out on the vessel causing extensive damage. While the Russian flagship survived the incident, two massive cranes collapsed on its flight deck, tearing a 200-square-foot hole on the top of the ship and setting repair efforts back by months. Worse still, the dry dock housing the carrier did sink during the fire… and at the time, it was the only dry dock Russia had that was large enough to support the Admiral’s repairs.