The Repair Bill for Russia's Aircraft Carrier: $1.5 Billion?

Michael Peck

The price tag for repairing Russia’s only aircraft carrier keep growing.

The cost to repair damage from the December 12, 2019, fire may be 95 billion rubles (US$1.5 billion), according to Russian business newspaper Kommersant, citing an unnamed source in the Northern Fleet.

“This is not only about damage to the structures of the aircraft carrier, but also about damaged repair equipment and failed military and civilian specialists due to injuries,” the source said. The fire occurred when a cable was set ablaze during routine welding in an engine room while the ship was docked at Murmansk, according to Russian news agency TASS. The fire spread across several decks and compartments, killing two people and injuring more than a dozen more.

Sources told TASS that “The accommodation cabins with garbage burnt out and that is why the fire will certainly not affect the timeframe of the aircraft carrier’s repairs," one source said. Another source said the fire could have been far worse. Another source said that “close to the burnt-out premises there were auxiliary diesel generators as well as containers with 140 tons of diesel fuel and 30 tons of machinery oil, which, fortunately, were unaffected."

Alexei Rakhmanov, the head of Russia’s state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation, denied the repair costs would be as high as feared, TASS  said. “The information of some media that the amount of damage caused by the fire at the Admiral Kuznetsov will allegedly be equal to the cost of the aircraft carrier itself is completely untrue," Rakhmanov said.

Rakhmanov said the damage to the carrier was not severe. The ship “did not receive critical damage, since the equipment located in the compartment where the fire occurred was already dismantled during the overhaul.”

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