Editor’s note: The sinking of the PD-50 floating dock in an accident last October was a massive blow for the Russian Navy. PD-50 was the only dock in European Russia capable of handling its largest ships, the Kirov-clas “battlecruisers” and the Navy’s sole aircraft carrier Kuznetsov. The dock sank as work was being done on retrofitting the latter which now could not be completed.
This raised the question of how the Russians would proceed. Would they attempt to refloat the sunken mega dock, would they tow Kuznetsov which had lost propulsion to the Far East, or might they even retire the troubled carrier. The one scenario which was considered the least was that the Russians would simply replace the PD-50 seeing it had been built in Sweden.
Nonetheless the Russians seem to have found a (relatively) simple and ingenious solution — they are going to merge two existing smaller floating docks into one gigantic one.
However, this is still going to take 1.5 years, for a total of at least 2 years delay in getting the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier back into service. It’s a big hit for the navy’s carrier arm in the lost experience this is going to represent.
Earliest information was that the path chosen was to recover the PD-50, that Russia is now building a replacement instead may indicate that has turned out to be difficult.
(PD-50 was also valuable because when it was not handling the largest ships it could float two smaller ones simultaneously.)
The Zvezdochka shipyard now confirms that a replacement for the PD-50 that last October vanished into the sea is soon in the making.
The new dock will be based on two existing dry docks located in yard No 35 in Roslyakovo, the town situated only few kilometers from Murmansk City.
When completed, the dry dock will be the biggest of its kind in Russia, press secretary of Zvezdochka Yevgeny Gladyshev told Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
«At the moment, the dock is divided in two parts, it is actually two different docks,» Gladyshev made clear to the newspaper. The reconstruction will include the merging of the two parts into one joint dock. In addition, the whole installation will be made longer.
According to the company representative, the project is ongoing and design and construction specifications under elaboration.
The whole process is estimated to last for about 1,5 years.
The Russian Navy was put in a difficult situation when the floating dry dock PD-50 sunk last October. The 330 meter long installation was the only place that could handle upgrades and repairs of the biggest naval vessels. That includes aircraft carrier «Admiral Kuznetsov» and battle cruiser «Pyotr Veliky».
The floating dock had been built in Sweden in 1980 and few years later bought by the Soviet Union and taken to the Kola Bay. There were about 60 people on the dock when it early morning 30th October 2018 sunk into the sea. Five of them did not manage to get in safety. One man died and four were injured.
Aircraft carrier «Admiral Kuznetsov» was in the dock as the accident happened. The vessel was damaged as a large crane fell over the ship deck. The ship has since been lying along the port side of Roslyakovo.
A major upgrade of the aircraft carrier is due to be completed by year 2021. Press secretary Yevgeny Gladyshev does not exclude that the ship reconstruction process could be delayed.
Source: The Barents Observer