Key Point: The carrier is barely capable of doing what carriers are supposed to do: launch fighters.
In December 2011, the Russian navy’s aging, poorly-maintained aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov departed from its northern base on the troubled vessel’s fourth deployment to the Mediterranean Sea.
True, the full-size carrier—which displaces 55,000 tons fully loaded—has a history of mechanical troubles since she entered service in 1991. But her operational tempo had increased, the result of a renewed push by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin to get the fleet out into the oceans for training and patrols.
To that end, Admiral Kuznetsov has undergone some limited retrofits in recent years and participated in several missions to the Med, so the old vessel had done this kind of thing before.
But as the Kuznetsov rounded Europe and headed towards the Syrian coast, the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet kept close by in case the carrier … sank.
It might be hard to believe, but it’s just one bizarre detail noted by journalist Michael Weiss in a essay on Russia’s military expansion.