Soviet Aircraft Carrier Varyag

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Varyag was to be an Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier. She was known as Riga when her keel was laid down at Nikolayev South (formerly Shipyard 444) in Nikolayev December 6, 1985, and she was launched December 4, 1988, but she was renamed Varyag (Varangian) in late 1990, after the famous Russian cruiser. While designated an aircraft carrier by the West, the design of the Admiral Kuznetsov class implies a mission different from that of either the United States Navy’s carriers or those of the French Navy. The term used by her builders to describe the Russian ships is tyazholiy avianesushchiy kreyser (TAKR or TAVKR)—“heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser”—intended to support and defend strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships, and maritime missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian fleet. This designation allows the Soviet/Ukrainian Navy to circumvent the refusal by Turkey to let aircraft carriers pass the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Construction stopped by 1992 with the ship structurally complete but without electronics. Ownership was transferred to Ukraine as the Soviet Union broke up and the ship was laid up unmaintained, then stripped. In early 1998, she lacked engines, a rudder, and much of her operating systems. She was put up for auction. Currently the ship is being examined and repaired by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) after purchasing it at auction. It was widely reported that the ship would become a casino in the Chinese SAR of Macau. This has been proven incorrect as the ship is in a drydock in Dalian and painted PLAN grey. News reports state that the ship is being refitted to be made operational. Jane's Fighting Ships states that Varyag may have been named Shi Lang and assigned pennant number 83. At the end of 2008, the Asahi Shimbun reported that the carrier was 'nearing completion'. On April 27, 2009 Varyag was reported to have been moved into another dry dock, 'apparently to install engines and other heavy equipment'. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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