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Russia’s only aircraft carrier stricken by fire in latest mishap

Smoke rises from a fire aboard Admiral Kuznetsov on Dec. 12. Photographer: Lev Fedoseyev/TASS via Getty Images

Bloomberg, December 12, 2019

UPDATE: (16:00 EST) At least one military serviceman was killed and 12 people were injured by a fire at Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday.

MOSCOW (11:00 EST) – A fire broke out on Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, injuring as many as 10 crew members, in the latest mishap to plague the Soviet-built vessel.

The blaze started in the ship’s power plant while the vessel was moored at the Arctic port of Murmansk for an overhaul. The fire spread to an area of 600 square meters (6,500 square feet), Russian media reports said. Human error was likely to blame, the head of the state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation, Alexei Rakhmanov, said, according to the Interfax news service. He said open flames had been extinguished by mid-afternoon and that the blaze wouldn’t delay the renovation of the vessel.

READ: SUBMARINE DEATHS: Russia is in state mourning

View from parking lot of the moored Russian air craft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov with smoke billowing from it. A crane is visible in the left portion of the photo
Another angle of the Russian Air Craft carrier burning. We now know that at least one person was killed in the incident

Ten sailors were injured while putting out the fire, mostly with smoke inhalation, the official Tass news agency reported, citing an emergency-services official it didn’t name. Tass said the Northern Fleet put the number of injured at two and said no weapons were aboard the vessel at the time.

READ: THE KURSK TRAGEDY: Raw wound reopened in Russia

The Admiral Kuznetsov, launched in 1985 as the Leonid Brezhnev, was deployed in recent years to Syria in support of the Russian military campaign there. In 2018 the ship started to undergo repairs scheduled to last two to three years, the Izvestia newspaper said.

READ: ‘Chernobyl on Ice’: Fears over Putin’s floating nuclear power station

The aircraft carrier has had a troubled record. In 2012, it broke down in the Bay of Biscay and had to be towed thousands of kilometers to its home port of Murmansk. In 2009, it spilled hundreds of metric tons of oil off the coast of Ireland and caught fire near Turkey, an accident in which one sailor died. Last year, a crane fell through its deck when the floating drydock holding the ship sank.

By Henry Meyer

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