If Russia had any hopes of becoming a naval superpower, they just went up in flames — literally.
Reports of the Admiral Kuznetsov — the country’s only aircraft carrier — catching fire flooded the internet Thursday morning. The ship was moored in Murmansk and undergoing repairs when smoke began billowing out of the antiquated vessel.
According to Russian state-run media group Tass, the fire could have been caused by workers ignoring safety regulations while welding.
While it’s unclear exactly what sparked the blaze, diesel on the ship continued to burn throughout the day.
Ten workers were injured as firefighters fought the inferno with specialized foam.
“The number of victims of the fire on the cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov rose to 12,” an early but incorrect tweet from Tass read. Alongside the message was a photo of the devastated aircraft carrier.
— ТАСС (@tass_agency) December 12, 2019
As fire crews worked to drench the inferno, more cameras began to record the embarrassing destruction of what should be one of the Russian navy’s most valuable ships.
Posts flooded Twitter, many with video of thick diesel smoke pouring out of the carrier.
Footage of the fire onboard aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznestov shows black smoke rising above the decks of the ship.According 🇷🇺# Russian state news agencies,one worker remains unaccounted for.The same wires suggest the fire is spreading and now covers 600 sq metres of the ship. pic.twitter.com/H840i8uwhI
— Capt(N) (@Capt_Navy) December 12, 2019
The carrier was built in the days of the Soviet Union but was not fully operational until years after its fall. Boasting the best naval technology the Warsaw Pact had to offer, nowadays the Admiral Kuznetsov is practically a relic.
This isn’t the first time calamity has occurred on board — fires and disasters have been a frequent feature in the ship’s history.
In 2009, a fire broke out and killed a sailor while the Kuznetsov was anchored in Turkish waters.
Nine years later, a malfunction caused a dry dock crane to collapse and punch a 200-square-foot hole in the ship.
Aircraft carriers are essential for any country’s navy hoping to make a mark on the world stage. With the ability to field massive firepower at a distance far greater than any cannon could hope to achieve, the only downside is the technology and cost behind the ships.
While Russia and China only have one carrier each, the United States boasts 24 of the vessels, 10 of which are the might Nimitz-class supercarriers. Although other ships factor into a navy’s power, aircraft carriers are a good indication on how much power a country can project.
If Russia ever hopes to challenge America on the high seas, it has some serious catching up to do.
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