The guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) suffered only cosmetic damage following the unexpected explosion of a SM-2 missile shortly after launch on July 18, Navy officials told USNI News on Thursday.
Following an assessment, the service determined The Sullivans would only need about $100,000 in repairs to fix the damage caused by the fire caused from the debris from the missile.
“The damage was all topside – there was not structural or internal ship damage,” Lt. Cmdr. Myers Vasquez, a spokesman with Naval Surface Force Atlantic, told USNI News on Thursday.
“The repairs will take place while the ship is in the ongoing continuous maintenance availability. The repairs are expected to be completed during this event, which ends Aug. 17.”
The missile failed during an exercise and exploded just above the ship’s mast, according to pictures of the accident obtained by USNI News.
The resulting debris rained down on the ships port side sparking a fire that scorched the deck of the ship and was quickly extinguished by the ship’s crew.
Several experts consulted by USNI News said if the explosion had occurred in the ship’s vertical launch cell the damage to The Sullivans could have been significantly worse.
Following the failure, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) mounted an investigation. Preliminary results pointed the finger at the missiles more than 25-year-old Mk 104 Mod 2 Dual Thrust Rocket Motors (DTRM) manufactured by the defunct Thiokol Corporation.
A limited number of SM-2 IIIAs equipped with the suspect Thiokol engines were restricted to “wartime use only.”