- A missile fired by German navy frigate Sachsen earlier this month failed to exit the tube, scorching the deck.
- Two crew members were injured, and the ship has returned to homeport.
- The German military has had a number of issues in recent years, including equipment shortages and failures.
A missile malfunction aboard German navy frigate FGS Sachsen on June 21 scorched the ship’s deck and injured two sailors.
The Sachsen, an air-defence frigate, was sailing with sub-hunting frigate Lubeck in a test and practice area near the Arctic Circle in Norwegian waters, according to the German navy.
The Sachsen attempted to fire a Standard Missile 2, or SM-2, from the vertical launch system located in front of the ship’s bridge. The missile did not make it out of the launcher, however, and its rocket burned down while still on board the ship, damaging the deck and injuring two crew members.
“We were standing in front of a glistening and glowing hot wall of fire,” the ship’s captain, Thomas Hacken, said in a German navy release.
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) June 27, 2018
Sachsen class frigates are outfitted with 32 Mark 41 vertical launch tubes built into the forward section of the ship. Each SM-2 is about 15 feet long and weighs over 1,500 pounds.
It was not immediately clear why the missile malfunctioned; it had been checked and appeared in “perfect condition,” the German navy said. Another of the same type of missile had been successfully launched beforehand.
While the ship’s deck and bridge were damaged, the effects were likely limited by the design of the Mark 41 launcher, which is armoured, according to Popular Mechanics.
The two ships sailed into the Norwegian port of Harstad on June 22 before returning to their homeport in the German city of Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea.
“We have to practice realistically, so that we are ready for action in case of emergency, also for the national and alliance defence,” Vice Adm. Andreas Krause, navy inspector, said in the release. Despite the risks, Krause said, “our crews are highly motivated and ready to do their best.”
Germany’s military has hit a number of setbacks in recent years, like equipment shortages and failures. Dwindling military expertise and a lack of strategic direction for the armed forces have contributed to these problems.
The navy has been no exception. The first Baden-Württemberg frigate, a program thought up in 2005, was delivered in 2016, but the navy has refused to commission it, largely because the centrepiece computer system didn’t pass necessary tests.
At the end of 2017, it was reported that all six of the German navy’s submarines were out of action – four because they were being serviced in shipyards with the other two waiting for berths.
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