These 5 Aircraft Carriers Are the Worst To Ever Patrol the Seas

David Axe
A picture taken off Toulon shows the aircraft carrier

David Axe


Just sad.

These 5 Aircraft Carriers Are the Worst To Ever Patrol the Seas

Renamed Vikramaditya, the flattop was due to enter service in 2008. But the poorly-managed Russian shipyard was overwhelmed by the scale of the refit. The cost doubled and trials were bumped back to September 2012. And when the crew pushed the conventionally-powered ship to her theoretical top speed of 32 knots, her boilers overheated.

Imposing, flexible, able to sail fast and launch devastating air strikes at long range, aircraft carriers are the ultimate expression of national power. And many of the world’s best-armed countries are acquiring them. China, Russia, India, Brazil, the U.K., France, America.

But just getting your hands on a flattop is hardly enough. For every example of a country that succeeds in deploying a functional carrier and matching air wing, there’s a counter-example: a flattop hobbled by mechanical problems, stricken by age, sidelined by bad design or stuck with warplanes that simply don’t work.

(This first appeared back in 2013.)

What follows are not the success stories. They are the case studies in flattop failure … and object lessons for all the countries building aircraft carriers today.

Mother Russia’s tugboat bait

The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, was launched in 1985 and joined the fleet in 1991. Since then the 55,000-ton, fossil-fuel-powered flattop has managed just four frontline deployments—all of them to the Mediterranean, and all of them just a few months in duration.

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