VIDEO: Missile Explodes During German Frigate Training Exercise; Incident Similar to 2015 U.S. Navy Explosion

June 27, 2018 5:11 PM - Updated: June 27, 2018 6:10 PM
June 21, 2018 explosion of an SM-2 Block IIIA over the German frigate FGS Sachsen (F 219)

New video and photos released this week show the extent of the damage on a German frigate following an apparent missile explosion last week during a training event off the coast of Norway.

FGS Sachsen (F 219) was operating with FGS Lübeck (F 214) near the Arctic Circle when it attempted to fire a Standard Missile (SM) 2 Block IIIA as part of the exercise, the service said in a release.

The footage, presumably shot from Lübeck, shows an explosion after just departing the vertical launch cell of the warship. The explosion rained down a shower of sparks and debris onto the frigate.

“We were standing in front of a glistening and glowing hot wall of fire,” German Capt. Thomas Hacken, who was on the bridge, said in a translation of a news release from the service.

Photos of ship posted on a German maritime news site show the explosion scorched the paint of the frigate’s bridge and the vertical launch cells battery. Two German sailors suffered minor injuries. After a brief port call in Norway, both frigates returned to their homeport of Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on the North Sea on Tuesday.

Officials at Raytheon, the company that built the SM-2, referred questions on the incident to the U.S. and German navies.

Damage suffered by FGS Sachsen (F 219) following a June 21, 2018 missile explosion. German Navy Photo

The incident is similar to a 2015 missile explosion over the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) during a training exercise off of Virginia. During the attempted launch on July 18, a similar SM-2 Block IIIA exploded shortly after launch from the destroyer. The explosion resulted in no injuries and only about a $100,000 in damages to the ship.

A Raytheon SM-2 Block IIIA guided missile explodes over USS The Sullivans during a training exercise on July 18, 2015. US Navy Photo obtained by USNI News

Based on the investigation following the 2015 explosion, “SM-2s with the older Mk 104 Mod 2 Dual Thrust Rocket Motors (DTRM) manufactured by the defunct Thiokol Corporation (now part of Orbital ATK) before 1992 — which also manufactured the shuttle programs SRBs — have been placed on the ‘Wartime Use Only’ list,” USNI News reported at the time.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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