An SM-2 missile misfire and exploded onboard a German Navy frigate during military drills last week. Fortunately there was no serious injury to the sailors onboard, and now there’s video of the explosion and subsequent fire.
Here’s the video via Popular Mechanics:
It’s easy to understand why the guy heard in the background of thevideo would exclaim the German equivalent of, “Oh shit!”
Two German sailors were reportedly stunned by the incident but recovered, according to a statement from the German Navy, and fortunately there were no serious injuries nor critical damage to the air defense frigate, called the Sachsen. A similar incident occurred onboard a U.S. destroyer back in 2015.
You can see from the video the missile doesn’t appear to have left the launch system before exploding, followed by an extended flame that scorched the deck of the ship.
The ship’s construction prevented this incident from being much worse, according to Popular Mechanics:
The Sachsen class frigates are designed to intercept enemy missiles and aircraft, and are equipped with 32 Mark 41 vertical launch silos built into the bow, just in front of the bridge. It was there the launch took place, and photos show the exterior of the bridge suffered extensive scorching.
As bad as the incident looks, it could have been a lot worse. The explosion and fire could have spread to other missiles in the silo field but did not. The Mark 41 launcher is armored and designed to work even after the ship suffers damage in combat, a factor that almost certainly limited the damage in this incident.
The ship had been firing a sequence of missiles prior to the failed launch, according to Naval Today, and the system had been inspected prior to the drills and determined to be functioning without issue.
The SM-2, which stands for “Standard Missile 2,” is a surface to air missile which uses radar homing and a blast-fragment warhead to defend against enemy cruise missiles and aircraft, and can even be used against surface targets.
It’s part of the Aegis Combat System on U.S. Navy Ships, and is used with 15 other allied navies, according to Missile Threat, a website that’s part of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
A similar incident involving the SM-2 missile system occurred on the USS The Sullivans in 2015, where the missile malfunctioned and exploded on launch from the ship.
But here’s what it’s supposed to look like when SM-2s fire normally, as they did in this 2016 U.S. Navy exercise:
It’s still not clear what may have caused the incident, but the ship was able to pull into a Norwegian port and the damage is being investigated. It’s just incredible to see the ship take an explosion likethat and come away with no serious injuries.
Correction: An earlier draft of this post was accidentally published due to a technical error. Now you know how the sausage is made. We apologize, and regret the error. – M.B.