Base on the water: why “Admiral Kuznetsov” came to the shores of Syria

Heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov” in the group of six ships on Friday, November 4, reached the Eastern part of the Mediterranean sea. On the composition of the group had previously reported the Agency “Interfax” with reference to the press service of the Northern fleet of Russia.

In addition to the aircraft carrier, the group included the heavy nuclear missile cruiser “Peter the Great”, anti-submarine ships “Severomorsk” and “Vice-Admiral Kulakov”. Escorted by warships, according to the BBC, the salvage tug “Nikolay Chiker” and tanker “Sergey Osipov”. Information about the escorts is also confirmed by data MarineTraffic service, tracking the movement of vessels in the oceans.

According to the British newspaper The Times, the Russian group more: it also includes three submarines armed with cruise missiles. The newspaper cites the Royal Navy of great Britain, which brought down two submarines of the project “Pike-B” (NATO classification — Akula-class) and one of the project “Halibut” (Kilo-class). Ministry of defense of Russia, these data are not officially commented. Submarines both projects can carry on Board the latest cruise missiles “Caliber”.


The cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov” came into the campaign on 15 October, the naval base of Severomorsk. That ship will join naval group off the coast of Syria, in July 2016, said the source TASS. The press service of the Northern fleet, which includes aircraft carrier, the Agency “Interfax” reported that the ship is heading towards the northeastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean sea. A week later, on 21 October, a group of ships entered the English channel. According to the official representative of the Ministry of defense of Russia Igor Konashenkov, was planned for October 26 in the Spanish port of Ceuta, located on the African shore of the Strait of Gibraltar, go several support ships. However, Spain refused to the Russian side. Monday, 31 October, the cruiser approached the coast of Algeria. At the same time “Interfax” reported that in the middle of the week, November 3, ship group plans to hold exercises in the Mediterranean sea near the Italian island of Sardinia. Tuesday, November 1, asiannude the cruiser passed the test, the UPS carrier-based aircraft. The MiG-29 and su-33 have completed the takeoff and landing from the deck of the cruiser without combat load.

In late October, the Western media has produced several publications dedicated to the movement of the cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov” in the Atlantic. British newspaper the Telegraph drew attention to the black smoke from the pipes of the ship, which immediately raised questions about its technical serviceability. Foreign military experts and sailors who had left the cruiser, told The New York Times about broken toilets and numerous breakdowns that plagued the cruiser.

The official reaction of Western countries were restrained. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the end of October expressed concern about the possible use of the bound for the Eastern Mediterranean the Russian carrier battle group for attacks on Syria. In response, the Director of the European cooperation Department of Russian foreign Ministry Andrey Kelin called ridiculous fears NATO. “Reason to suspect something there, there is no basis for the statements of Stoltenberg,” — said Kaelin. He recalled that the Russian aerospace forces do not conduct operations in the area Aleppo: airstrikes ceased to apply on 18 October.

Smoke yoke

The passage of the cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov” across the English channel accompanied by the appearance in the media of photographs of the smoke trail that it leaves behind a cruiser. According to a former commander of the Northern fleet (1999 to 2001), Vyacheslav Popov, smoke “cap” above the ship comes from the fact that “Admiral Kuznetsov” is used as fuel oil. “This is not due to the poor condition of the power plant or boilers of the ship. This is the usual, normal condition of the cruiser”, — said Popov. According to him, “Admiral Kuznetsov” always smoked in the campaign.

“This vehicle has passed all necessary repairs and is in a state of readiness”, — sums up the retired Admiral.

It is difficult to assess the condition of the ship by the smoke, said the chief editor of the magazine “arms Export” Andrey Frolov. However, according to experts, it is obvious that a turbine installation of the cruiser, running on oil, can’t produce colourless smoke. “Black smoke can mean that the ship is in the afterburner, additional fuel is fed,” suggests Frolov. She did not deny that the possible problem in the hardware of the vehicle, causing the fuel not completely burnt down.

“Admiral Kuznetsov” is equipped with four paroturbinnoj capacity of 50 thousand HP each. Turbines disperse the four five-bladed screws, which allows the cruiser to reach a maximum speed of 29 knots (54 km/h). The speed of combat of economic progress in the cruiser below 18 knots (33 km/h). The remaining ships of the group to develop a comparable speed. Nuclear cruiser “Peter the Great”, for example, can go at speeds up to 32 knots, and large anti-submarine ships “Severomorsk” and “Vice-Admiral Kulakov” in the afterburner is moving with a speed of 29.5 knots.

The Telegraph reported earlier that the poor technical condition of the vehicle indicates the presence of a group of rescue tug “Nikolay Chiker”. However, according to Popov, the presence of a tug in the accompanying group — a common practice. “When a detachment of ships going camping, it is always accompanied by rescue equipment, including rescue tug,” said the former commander of the Northern fleet.

Heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov” is the only active aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy. It was founded in September 1982. Eight years later, the ship was enrolled in the Northern fleet. The first four years the cruiser has actively participated in the exercises were tests of weapons and equipment of the ship. For the first time the “Admiral Kuznetsov” to the Mediterranean went to sea in 1995. In the campaign, the power system was damaged, the coral almost sank in the storm. In 1996, the American sailors had to help the crew of “Admiral Kuznetsov”, which is faced with a shortage of fresh water due to breakdowns one of the systems, told The New York Times.

A new campaign in the Mediterranean sea was planned for 2000, but because of the tragedy of submarine “Kursk” exit was cancelled. Instead of swimming, “Admiral Kuznetsov” returned to the repair docks. The ship was scheduled maintenance from 2001 to 2004. After repairs, the cruiser participated in the campaign in the North Atlantic, patrolled several times a year at sea. In 2007 there was the second campaign in the Mediterranean sea, which lasted for two months. In 2008, the ship waited for another repair. During the seven months of work were upgraded main propulsion, refurbished boiler equipment, air conditioning system and the mechanism for lifting aircraft to the flight deck.

After repair the aircraft carrier in 2011, first went to the shores of Syria. “Admiral Kuznetsov” has reached the point of logistics Russian Navy in January 2012. In 2014 there has been yet another long cruise ship in the Mediterranean sea. After this, the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser was on repair in dock of the 82nd shipyard in Roslyakovo (Murmansk region). In the repair dock, the ship must return in 2017, said in July the Deputy commander of the Navy arms Victor Borsuk.


According to the official data of the Ministry of defense, aboard the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov” in accordance with the tactical and technical characteristics can be up to 12 su-33 and 24 Ka-27 helicopters. However, the aviation unit cell, due to the smaller number of helicopters the ship can carry on Board up to 26 MiG-29K and su-33. In addition to the Ka-27 from the deck of the ship can take off, for example, Ka-29 and the latest attack helicopters Ka-52K. Thanks to the air group combat radius of the cruiser is up to 1.5 thousand km.

In the current campaign in addition to su-33 are the MiG-29. The presence of MiG confirmed by the video made by TV channel “Star” on Board the ship during the exercise on 1 November. According to Frolov, in the current campaign MiG-29 cruiser — eight.

The aviation wing of the ship can provide the security of the ship groupings and objects on the ground. Moreover, su-33 and MiG-29 can accompany the Russian aircraft group HQs based in Hamima. “The ship has helicopters, radar surveillance, they can transfer data, conduct reconnaissance and identify targets of attacks,” explains Andrey Frolov. The expert points out that su-33 cannot operate at maximum combat radius (up to 1 thousand km) due to limitations of the runway of the aircraft carrier. “Cruiser initially has no steam catapults, takeoffs are conducted using the springboard from which the planes are forced to fly with less reserve fuel and ammunition”, — sums up the expert. So combat radius used aircraft can reach several hundred kilometers. To improve mobility of aircraft can the wing of the MiG-29 that are capable of refueling other planes in the air, said Frolov.

The cruiser has its own missile defense system. The most powerful attack weapons, “Admiral Kuznetsov” — 12 launchers for heavy missiles “Granit”. The range of semitones missiles from 500 to 700 km. “These missiles are designed to combat ships of the enemy, however, recent modifications allow the “Granite” to strike at shore facilities,” explains a retired Admiral Popov. He did not specify whether on Board the cruiser new versions of missiles.

In addition, on Board the cruiser are eight anti-aircraft missile and artillery complex “Dirk”, six naval guns AK-630 and four anti-aircraft rocket complex of sea basing “the Dagger”. This allows the “Admiral Kuznetsov” to control the airspace over a group of ships and coastal facilities. The cruiser is equipped with a 60 jet depth charges complex “Boa-1” for protection against torpedoes.


Officially the task of the ship groups and aircraft carrier are not commented upon. According to the press Secretary of Russian President Dmitry Peskov, all the data about the campaign “are stored somewhere in sealed envelopes marked “top secret”.

In addition to the combat missions March “Admiral Kuznetsov” will allow to work in combat conditions, interaction with other group vehicles, says military expert Viktor Litovkin. “Of course, it’s an experience. And for carrier-based aircraft pilots, too,” — said the expert. The expert stressed that in the first place before you ship, there are military tasks. “The ship is in the Mediterranean sea to support the air group at the airport in Hamima, to strengthen the marine base, which will be located on the site of the item of collateral in Tartus,” — says the expert.

Despite the wide range of tasks, “Admiral Kuznetsov” will be a turning point in the Syrian campaign or the siege of Aleppo, said the program Director of the Valdai club and head of the Agency “Foreign policy” by Andrey sushentsov. “This is a test for the ship, its capabilities in combat. The same situation as with missiles “Caliber”, explains Sushentsov. In his opinion, the campaign of the cruiser intended to demonstrate U.S. political independence of the Russian government. “This show of force achieved its goals much better than all the oral message of the last years”, — the expert concludes.