Russian Navy’s Carrier Group Won’t Visit Syria


Russian Navy’s carrier group headed by aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov will not visit Syria during an exercise to be held in winter in the Mediterranean Sea, reported RIA Novosti on Nov 29 referring to a source in Russian defense ministry.

He commented reports of some media agencies that the only Russia’s naval base abroad Tartus would meet Russian task force headed by Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in spring 2012.

“Indeed, Northern Fleet (NF) task force consisting of aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and large ASW ship Admiral Chabanenko in Dec 2011 will start a long-range cruise in order to hold a number of training activities in Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. However, the call at Syrian port Tartus is not planned”, said the interviewee.

He emphasized that the base in Tartus had been established for repair and maintenance of Black Sea Fleet (BSF) ships. “If necessary, I mean the need of repair, supplies replenishment, or crew rest, Russian warships may call at Tartus, but in this particular case it is not planned”, said the source.

According to him, displacement of Admiral Kuznetsov is too large to moor at Tartus due to lack of appropriate infrastructure, i.e. quay of adequate size.

The NF spokesman said in Nov that crews of Admiral Kuznetsov and Admiral Chabanenko had completed an array of drills in the Barents Sea and were ready for overseas deployment. Acting as a carrier group headed by NF Deputy Commander Vice Admiral Alexander Vitko, the crews have practiced joint maneuvering and carried out four gun and ten missile firings.

Earlier on, aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov has been deployed in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea several times. This ship built in 1985 is the only aircraft carrier operated by Russian Navy. Over 50 airplanes and helicopters are based on her. Apart from standard multirole deck-based fighters Su-33 and Su-25UTG, Admiral Kuznetsov carries helicopters Ka-27 and their modified versions. The carrier’s displacement is 55,000 tons, cruising range is 8,000 miles, crew is 1,500 men including 650 – aircraft personnel, speed is 29 knots. Armament includes Granit antiship missile systems, Kinzhal and Kortik air defense systems, Udav antisubmarine systems etc.

The agreement on deployment of Soviet warships in Tartus was tied with Syrian government in 1971. The base was established to maintain Soviet Navy’s activities in the Mediterranean Sea, primarily for repair and supply of BSF 5th Operational Squadron.

At present, Russian technical maintenance station in Syrian Tartus comprises several PM-61M-type mooring floats, floating workshop (shifts every 6 months), depots, quarters, and various logistic assets. The 50-men staff includes officers, seamen and civilian specialists of Black Sea Fleet.

Naval Today Staff, December 01, 2011;