Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, caught fire on Thursday (Dec 12) during maintenance work in Russia’s Arctic port in Murmansk, with three people unaccounted for, Russian news agencies reported.
One source told the TASS news agency that the fire had started on the upper deck and that thick, black smoke was billowing from the vessel.
At least two Russian navy officers were killed after a fire broke out at Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, at least 11 more people were injured.
The blaze reportedly started while workers were conducting welding operations in the vessel’s engine room, while the ship was docked in Murmansk. It was only extinguished a day later.
One of the servicemen lost his life after heading towards the area to “ensure the safe evacuation of workers,” Russia’s Northern Fleet said in a statement.
According to Russia’s Kommersant paper, the fire started when melted metal fell down a shaft and landed on an oily cloth. The fire then reportedly spread to the electric cables.
Why is the Russian Navy suffering from accidents more than any of developed navies?
This is not the first accident occured at the Admiral Kuznetsov that has been undergoing repairs for more than two years in Murmansk and suffered previous damage in October 2018 when a crane crashed onto its deck.
The fire occurred onboard Russian Aircraft Carrier increased doubts about the capabilities and personal training level of the Russian Navy. In the past, the Kuznetsov faced a fire during a port visit in Marmaris/Turkey. To be a blue water navy and to keep the power projection capability having an aircraft carrier is indispensable. Yet, more important than that is to save the operational level.
Russian Navy suffered accidents more than any other navy. For example;
7 April 2015 – the Orel, an Oscar-II class submarine, caught fire during repairs in a dry dock in the Severodvinsk shipyard. No casualties have been reported and the nuclear reactor had been turned off before the fire started.
14 November 2016 – a MiG-29 crashed in the Mediterranean while attempting to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. The pilot safely ejected. The plane was on a training mission for the taskforce sent to help Assad in the Syrian Civil War.
27 April 2017 – Russian spy ship Liman sank off the Turkish coast, 29 km from Kilyos, after colliding with a freighter in fog. All 78 crew members were rescued.
30 October 2018 – the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was damaged while undergoing a refit: the dry dock sank, sending a 70-tonne crane crashing onto the ship and causing a 5m gash. One ship-worker went missing and four required medical care after falling into the sea.
1 July 2019 – a navy research submersible, thought to be an AS-12 “Losharik”, suffered a fire and 14 crew members died due to fume inhalation. The vessel had been conducting research in Russian territorial waters, according to the Defence Ministry, though Russian media reports said it was a nuclear mini-submarine deployed in special operations.
5 August 2019 – a military depot exploded near the city of Achinsk, Siberia killing one and injuring at least eight others, and prompting the evacuation of thousands. Russia’s Defense Ministry said a fire triggered the explosions at a storage facility for gunpowder charges in eastern Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region. Authorities declared a state of emergency in the region. Air traffic was suspended within 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) of the munitions site.
8 August 2019 – five military and civilian specialists were killed and three were injured in an explosion at a naval test facility in the Arkhangelsk region while testing a liquid jet engine, said to be for the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile. Earlier the same day there were reports of a fire and explosions at a military facility near Nyonoksa in the same region. The facility has a navy missile test range used to test intercontinental ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and anti-aircraft missiles. The administration in nearby Severodvinsk reported elevated radiation levels for 40 minutes leading to a rush on medical iodine. However, Russia’s defence ministry insisted no harmful chemicals had been released.
9 August 2019 – shells again exploded at the military depot that saw explosions on 5 August 2019. 9 were injured. This time the explosions were blamed on a lightning strike.
The fire occured in Admiral Kuznetsov is the last link of the accident chain Russian Navy suffered at recent years. Russian Navy should consider about the safety issues and train the personnel more. Because safety is always paramount.