A huge fire has broken out aboard the Russian Navy’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, that is currently at the Barents Sea port of Murmansk for repair works.
According to the latest reports by RT.com six people have reportedly been injured, two sailors and one worker are listed as missing, as fuel is still burning aboard the ship.
The blaze was sparked by welding in the first power section on the ship’s deck, after which the fire spread to a space of 600 square meters (6,460 square feet), according to emergency services sources.
В Мурманске произошел пожар на авианосце «Адмирал Кузнецов»
Крейсер загорелся во время ремонтных работ. pic.twitter.com/Dk8uTRE9wo
— Актуальная Россия (@RussiaActually) December 12, 2019
The Northern Fleet’s press office later clarified that there was “a release of smoke into one of the compartments during welding works,” and the source of the smoke was “localized.” It added that there were no munitions on board.
All workers have been evacuated from the vessel. Two servicemen, who were helping to put out the fire, were treated for smoke inhalation, a spokesperson for Russia’s Northern Fleet said.
Sources from the emergency services, meanwhile, told reporters that six people were injured. One shipyard worker is said to have sustained a head trauma.
Aleksey Rakhmanov, head of the state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation, told Interfax that “a human factor” could be the cause of the fire.
The Admiral Kuznetsov is a heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser of project 1143.5, the only one in its class in the Russian Navy. It was launched in 1987 and it is named after the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N. G. Kuznetsov.
The Admiral Kuznetsov has seen action in Russia’s military campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, with its planes carrying out air strikes on rebel forces.
This is not the first time fire breaks out aboard the aircraft carrier: on Jan. 7, 2009, a small fire broke out onboard Admiral Kuznetsov while anchored off Turkey during naval exercises in the Mediterranean with a group of Northern Fleet warships. Caused by a short-circuit, the fire led to the death of one crew member by carbon monoxide poisoning.