Very often we talk about things for which there is no answer even at the highest echelons of power. Today we’ll talk about such a question. More precisely, about the ship. I will simply list the names. “Soviet Union” (at the design stage), “Riga” (laid down under this name), “Leonid Brezhnev” (at the construction stage), “Tbilisi” (at the test stage).
The sailors already realized that in fact we are talking about our long-suffering TAVKR “Admiral Fleet Soviet Union Kuznetsov ”, this is the name the ship received in 1990. The only ship of this class in the Russian Navy.
What do officials say about the completion of repairs
I am often asked questions about what will happen to this ship. Moreover, the question interests both sailors and land readers. At the same time, facts are often presented which are indisputable and speak in favor of any version of the development of events. From the complete modernization and updating of weapons to the most modern to write-offs "on needles."
The latest statement by the management of the plant, where Kuznetsov is now located, sounds optimistic. The completion deadlines are postponed to 2022, but the repair will be completed necessarily. But is it? There are so many questions on this statement that my head is spinning.
Today, the ship stands at the only berth in the north that can provide Kuznetsov-based berthing - at the mooring wall of SRZ-35 in Rost. After two serious incidents, the fire on December 12, 2019 in the first energy compartment in the bow of the ship, the subsequent flooding of this compartment and the flooding of the PD-50 floating dock on October 30, 2018 (belonged to SRZ-82), doubts only intensified.
Why does Russia need a fleet?
Have you ever thought about a simple question: why do we need a fleet? What tasks should the ships of the Russian Navy carry out? No, strategic nuclear forces, which include part of the ships, do not raise questions. Their need is not even discussed. Must be a point! This is one of the components of our strategic nuclear forces.
I’m talking about those ships that are not part of the strategic nuclear forces. What is the role of the general navy? What is the place of these ships in the Russian Armed Forces? I understand that at the level of the layman it’s easy to talk about this role. And at the document level? At the level of decrees and government decrees?
For a long time I tried to find such documents. Found! Decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin dated July 20, 2017 “On the approval of the foundations of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of naval activities until 2030” And that’s it! Strange somehow, a decree is a guide to action. What next? Not a single document about the concept of using such a fleet, about the construction of just such ships. Although, perhaps such documents exist under the corresponding stamps.
"Admiral Kuznetsov" today "froze." Most experts understand that the ship must not only be repaired, but modernized. More precisely, like this: today we have several opinions on this issue.
Cruiser must undergo a deep modernization
The first one. The ship must undergo a deep modernization and become a completely modern TAVKR. In my opinion, it was the proponents of this opinion that immediately after the fire laid out the open amount that is needed for repairs. 95 billion rubles. The amount is huge, given that the cost of the new TAVKR, according to experts, is 110 billion rubles.
But that is not all. They talked a lot about the official cause of the flooding PD-50. The cruiser is supposedly to blame. But then I, a deep land man, have a question: why the hell should I bring a ship out of the dock that has all four screws removed? Or does a heavy cruiser have screws of such a size that divers can safely install them?
Have you noticed how the talk about the dock lifting subsided? PD-50 can not be raised. Yes, and a little old dock, to be honest. Built in 1980 in Sweden. But there are no others in the Kola Bay. The dock, which generally can, and even with a stretch, “take” “Admiral Kuznetsov,” is in the Pacific Ocean. But delivering it to the north is unrealistic.
There was talk of two more solutions to the cruiser problem. First of all, about the resumption of the construction of a dry dock at the northern end of Cape Chalmpushka. Only now this construction will cost a lot of money and time. Work begun in the 80s of the last century was stopped at the “0” stage. Only blasting was carried out.
Another solution is on the opposite side of the Kola Bay. This is Novatek, where floating gas liquefaction plants will be built. There would be less work. Just lengthen the pool. But who will curtail the program of developing the northern deposits for the sake of a warship? The decision to weld two PDs into one seems to me utopian at all ...
In short, the Navy cannot do anything without its own dock. The cruiser cannot be repaired at existing facilities. But this is just a challenge for the future. Ships are a long-term investment. Today, the service life of ships is quite long. So, a repair base is needed.
Turn a cruiser into a training ship for training Navy pilots
The second one. The cruiser will undergo minor repairs, during which the power plant and electronic weapons will be replaced. By the way, this is exactly what was stipulated in the contract signed in the spring of 2018. In this case, there comes an understanding of the MO report about overstating the cost of repairs in the media (I'm talking about those 95 billion rubles). According to the contract, the cost of work then fit into 55 billion rubles. Plus the cost of eliminating fire damage.
In this case, it becomes clear that Admiral Kuznetsov will no longer have long trips. The ship is likely to become a training ship for the deck aviation. The only thing that is not yet clear is its location. You must admit that the Northern Fleet is not very suitable for training naval pilots.
Here another factor arises that can serve as a confirmation of this particular decision. According to press reports, quite serious work is now being carried out in the field of developing a spacecraft. Existing ship-based aircraft no longer meet modern requirements.
Write off the cruiser "on needles"
The third. Option to write off the cruiser. With all the pros, from the field of economics, military expediency, the impossibility of repair and all that is against the preservation of the Admiral Kuznetsov Tavkr today, there is one fact that crosses out everything. The abandonment of the aircraft carrier cruiser will mean the abandonment of aircraft carriers in general and from naval aviation in particular.
This will mean that we are abandoning the ocean and the ability to influence some countries in other regions without the use of strategic nuclear forces. Russia cannot go for it. Even though our fleet today does not represent a serious force, alas, this fact will have to be recognized, we should think about the future.
And one more question, which for us, land, does not look serious, but for sailors it is the most important. I mentioned above about the fire that occurred in the bow of the ship. There is evidence that, perhaps, the flame spread to the power cables. And this is the worst thing that can happen in a fire, simply due to the fact that fire can appear in any compartment of the ship.
But the cruiser’s crew competently organized the struggle for survivability and managed to prevent serious consequences. It was the actions of the crew that made it possible to save the ship and bring it to the pier SRZ-35. This is what applies directly to the crew of the ship. But there is also what concerns admirals.
I wondered why the ships are written off "on needles." Once upon a time I wrote about armored trains and, accordingly, about steam locomotives. So, the engine is written off “for nails”, and the ship, for some reason, “for needles”. Thanks to the films, I know that under Emperor Peter the ships were written off for firewood. Probably, naval officials survived with the advent of iron ships.
Once upon a time, in Leningrad, one of the friends, a local marine, told an interesting parable or a true story. I did not dare to check it. “If you want an unforgettable experience, go to any warship and tell one of the crew that it’s time to write off the ship“ on gramophone needles ”. Why gramophone even now I do not understand. Sailors, and most officers, did not see the gramophone in their eyes.
Admirals are the same sailors as ordinary sailors. They will by all means resist the cancellation of such a powerful and beautiful ship. To exchange a warship for trifles is stupid and insulting. Let there be a training ship. Let it be a floating airfield for sea pilots. In the end, let it be anything, but afloat, in the ranks.
We leave the question open
What is the fate of "Admiral Kuznetsov", no one can say for sure. It seems to me that even high naval commanders do not yet know about this. There is no final decision yet. Too much has become entangled in this matter. Economists, sailors, politicians, industrialists ... Each has its own reasons.
So far, the completion of the repair has been postponed to 2022. Experts believe that this is possible if the problem with PD is resolved before June 2020. We will see…