It’s Putin’s Russian rustbucket! How the 30-year-old ageing aircraft carrier that sailed menacingly close to Britain is in a ‘very poor condition’ and frequently plagued by breakdowns
Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov sailed close to Britain yesterday
Soviet-era vessel, led flotilla of naval vessels, on its way to Mediterranean
It is equipped with missiles, anti-aircraft guns and torpedoes
The 55,000-ton carrier escorted by Royal Navy’s destroyer HMS Duncan
Cutting through the English Channel, the looming bulk of the Russian navy’s flagship passes the White Cliffs of Dover.
Belching black smoke, the ageing aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov sailed menacingly close to Britain yesterday in a provocative manoeuvre.
The Soviet-era vessel, leading a flotilla of eight naval vessels, is on its way to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster the Syrian bombing campaign.
Cutting through the English Channel, the looming bulk of the Russian navy’s flagship passes the White Cliffs of Dover
Equipped with missiles, anti-aircraft guns and torpedoes, the 55,000-ton carrier was escorted by the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan and Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond as it skirted UK territorial waters.
Tensions between the UK and Russia are at breaking point after Theresa May blasted Russian president Vladimir Putin for undermining the West’s efforts to bring peace to Syria.
She has condemned the Kremlin’s ‘sickening’ role in the bombardment of rebel-held Aleppo, which has left 2,700 people dead or injured, in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Mrs May has urged EU leaders to impose sanctions on Putin’s regime, including asset freezes and travel bans, amid fears some countries are dragging their feet. Yesterday she warned that EU leaders had agreed to keep ‘all options’ open to curb Moscow’s behaviour.
Obsolete: The ship, launched in 1985, still bears its communist-era name ‘Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov’
Tensions between the UK and Russia are at breaking point after Theresa May blasted Russian president Vladimir Putin for undermining the West’s efforts to bring peace to Syria
Russian warships sail down Dover Strait en route to Syria
She said it was vital for the West to keep up pressure to completely halt the assault on Aleppo following Russia’s announcement of a pause in hostilities to allow people to flee.
Speaking at the European Council summit in Brussels, she said EU leaders had discussed Russian involvement in Syria, adding: ‘We were very clear about the role of Russia, and very clear about the need for the EU to give the strong statement that it has, and to consider – if the atrocities continue – all options.’
Last night Downing Street dismissed claims the UK was too ‘weak’ to see off a Russian threat.
AGEING SOVIET WARSHIP PLAGUED BY BREAKDOWNS
Fiercely armed and weighing 55,000 tons, the 31-year-old Kuznetsov may appear formidable, but experts say it is in ‘very poor material condition’.
Despite having a range of 8,500 miles, Russia’s only aircraft carrier has been plagued by years of technical problems and frequently has to return to port for urgent repairs to it steam turbines.
The vessel – which is 1,000ft long and has a top speed of 29 knots – is powered by boilers that are so unreliable it is accompanied by a large ocean-going tug whenever it deploys in case it breaks down.
Embarrassingly for the Kremlin, the ship was in such poor condition during its Mediterranean deployment in 2011 that the US navy kept a close watch on it in case it sank. One sailor was killed when a fire started on board in 2009.
The Kuznetsov’s plumbing is so bad that many of its toilets cannot be used.
Flaws in the piping system mean it freezes during winter. To prevent pipes bursting, the water is turned off to most of the cabins – to the annoyance of its 1,690-man crew.
The ship, which will be retired by 2020, spilled hundreds of tons of oil in the Irish Sea during a refuelling accident seven years ago.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the convoy was aimed at testing British capabilities and had been ‘marked every step of the way’ by the Royal Navy. Nato officials have said the Russian deployment is the largest of its kind since the Cold War and is designed to demonstrate Moscow’s military might.
But despite its formidable appearance, experts say the Admiral Kuznetsov is in ‘very poor material condition’. Russia’s only aircraft carrier has been blighted by years of technical problems and is always accompanied by a tug because it is so prone to breakdowns.
Commissioned in 1981, it still carries Cold War era markings proclaiming: ‘Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov’
A Royal Navy source said: ‘You only have to look at the smoke she’s belching out to see not all is well. We have had people on board Russian ships in the last ten years or so and … the conditions inside are pretty manky.’
Equipped with missiles, anti-aircraft guns and torpedoes, the 55,000-ton carrier was escorted by the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan
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