SM-2 missile fails to launch after booster burns out inside German air defense frigate VLS

FGS Sachsen VLS after the accident. Photo: German Navy/Bundeswehr

A Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) failed to leave the MK. 41 vertical launch system after the rocket booster burned out while the missile was still inside its canister during a live-firing drill conducted by German air defense frigate FGS Sachsen.

Nobody was hurt during the accident, the German Navy said adding that two sailors on the frigate were “stressverletzt” – which means the sailors likely experienced an acute stress reaction. Both have recovered and are ready to return to duty.

The SM-2 failure occurred on Thursday, June 21, off the coast of Norway. The F124 frigate FGS Sachsen was in a Norwegian exercise area together with ASW frigate FGS Lübeck when the accident took place.

“We stood in front of a glaring and glowing hot wall of fire,” Frigate Captain Thomas Hacken, the task group commander said.

The German Navy said the crew’s quick reaction brought the situation under control. The frigate’s water sprinkler system also immediately activated to extinguish the fire.

There had been no indication of a potential technical defect on the starter system, the navy further explained, adding that another SM-2 had been successfully launched shortly before the accident. The rocket had also been inspected prior to the launch and was assessed to be in a perfect technical condition.

Both frigates pulled into the Norwegian port of Harstad in the morning hours of June 22 where FGS Sachsen sailors will evaluate the damage, try to determine the causes of the failure and identify necessary repairs.

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