Late n’ Rare Flightline Friday: The World’s Worst Carrier, Kuznetsov October 24, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, asshatery, disaster, Flightline Friday, foolishness, fun, non squitur, pr stunts, silliness, Society, technology.
A lot of folks apparently got excited last week when, for the 7th time in its nearly 30 year history the broken down, way too small, horribly designed (and only) Russian carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov put to sea to ostensibly conduct combat operations off of Syria. If the carrier makes it to the Eastern Med – which is by no means certain, given its deplorable history – Kuznetsov will take party in combat operations for the first time with its tiny fixed wing fleet of 16 Su-33 aircraft.
But first she (or, as the Russians say, he) has to get there. And that’s been the problem in the past. Even when Kuznetsov made it to Eastern Med, she was generally in too poor condition to actually do anything remotely military. Her freshwater condensers constantly crap out, meaning they can’t run the turbines, meaning the ship has to be towed back to port. Why else do you think the Russians never let Kuznetsov put to sea without the world’s largest tug as escort? Does the US Navy do this, with their carriers? The Japanese? Italians? Spanish? Even the Brazilians? No, no they do not.
Kuznetsov was a product of two disastrous characteristics: inexperienced, frankly incompetent design, and late-Soviet-era build standards. Coupled together, and you have one of the most poorly designed and built ships ever to slide down the ways. Her horrific design and shoddy workmanship are legendary. The phased array antennas on the island? – they’re concrete ballast, as the real radar was never made functional. The plumbing is worthlessly rusted out in half or more of the ship. Basically half of the ship is unlivable. The ship is only marginally large enough to handle the huge Su-33 tactical aircraft, and can only carry a handful of them, really barely enough to protect the carrier (if that), let alone project power anywhere. And her power plant…….a large steam unit……….has always been her most pronounced weak point.
It appears to have gotten even worse. While passing through the English Channel, Kuznetsov belched forth such hideous, thick plumes of smoke from her oil fired engines that I seriously doubt she could conduct flight operations under such conditions. See, carriers, when they do flight ops, always turn into the wind. Pilots trying to land on Kuznetsov would be rendered almost totally blind by these clouds of incredibly dense smoke emanating from the ship and flowing straight into their approach path to land. And this was while cruising at a leisurely 7-8 knots, not the 25+ generally required for flight operations. I would wager she can’t come close to that speed with engines in such dire shape*. If she can, her pilots will probably be splattered all over the round down trying to land.
Wow. They are either using incredibly dirty, unrefined oil, or those engines have unbelievable problems. Likely a bit of both.
This is not made up stuff. How to deal with carrier smokestack emissions prior to the advent of gas turbines and nukes was a huge issue. That’s one reason US carriers wound up with their islands so far back, which generally prevented the gasses from spreading so much they seriously affected visibility. On earlier Essex class carriers, with islands roughly midship, this was much more of a problem. The Japanese, on their WWII carriers, actually vented the boiler gasses downward, below the level of the flight deck, to try to deal with this.
Of course, US and allied pilots go through the training hell of learning to make night traps using only mirror, ball, and the screams of the LSO. Those landings are dang near blind, so it was generally less of a problem for US naval aviators even when we still had oil-fired carriers (which, we don’t. The last were retired nearly 10 years ago).
So don’t get too worked up over Putin’s latest bluster. This one is much more show than go. That’s all any combat operations conducted from Kuznetsov will be, if there are any – show. And it will be another hellish cruise for her crew, which despises the ship to the extent they mutinied a short while back. This is a ship that has spent over 95% of her 30 year career tied up pierside or in drydock. She’s a floating disaster, and the Chinese were probably suckers to gain most of their carrier knowledge, and their currently only operational carrier, from the incompleted hulk of Kuznetsov’s sister, now finished and called Laioning by the Red Chinese. She has all the same engines and other design flaws of the original, and to date hasn’t put to sea very often at all, by Western standards.
I loved the jokes on Ace: the world’s first wood-, or possibly peat-, burning aircraft carrier. I don’t think Lexington put out that much smoke after taking multiple Jap torpedoes at Coral Sea.
*- In fact, Kuznetsov has apparently never come close to her design speed of 29 kts