The accident took place after a power supply disruption caused the pumps on the floating dry dock, which was holding the aircraft carrier, to break down, causing the structure to sink.
The dock, known as PD-50, is one of the world’s largest floating dry docks and the biggest in Russia, measuring 330 meters long (1,082 feet) and weighing more than 80,000 tons.
“For now, the circumstances look like this: when the Admiral Kuznetsov was lowered, a power surge occurred from the shore, pumps shut down, and the dock sank,” Zvezdochka Shipyard spokesman Yevgeny Gladyshev told TASS.
Russian officials told state media the damage would not delay repairs on the Admiral Kuznetsov, which are due to be completed by 2021.
Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, told CNN the Russian navy was already in a poor state of repair and the loss of the dock wouldn’t help.
“The loss of one (floating dock) may not be that serious except we don’t know the condition of the others … I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that they’re in serious trouble in terms of their ability to do work on that carrier,” he said.
The Russian government has set up a commission into the sinking of the dock, investigating both the cause of the accident and whether the structure should be lifted back to the surface.