Russia's sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, in the English Channel in October 2016. (Dover-Marina.com via The New York Times)
The years have not been kind to Russia's sole, geriatric aircraft carrier.
Followed by billowing black smoke and massive tugboats wherever it goes, Admiral Kuznetsov has long been an object of derision in the defense commentary sphere.
The usual sense of levity accompanying Admiral Kuznetsov coverage turned to tragedy in 2018, when a 70-ton crane smashed into the carrier's hull. Almost as devastating as the considerable damage to the carrier itself was the loss of PD-50, Kuznetsov's floating drydock that sank from the blow's impact. The 2018 drydock disaster spawned a deluge of articles speculating as to Kuznetsov's fate, with many predicting its long-awaited decommission.
It appears, however, that the Russian Navy is refusing to throw in the towel.
Russia wants to build its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Russian state media reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources in the shipbuilding industry.
The carrier, a source told TASS, "will have a nuclear energy unit and displacement of about 70,000 [metric tons]," which would make it smaller than U.S. carriers but still larger than Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the steam-powered Admiral Kuznetsov, which suffered a devastating accident last fall.
One of the world's largest dry docks sank at a shipyard in northwestern Russia late last month, throwing a wrench into plans to repair and modernize the country's sole aircraft carrier — the Admiral Kuznetsov.