A German air defense warship was damaged in a missile-firing incident near the Norwegian coast last week. An SM-2 missile got trapped in its launcher which resulted into rocket exhaust releasing within the capsule and inflicted serious damage to the ship’s bow. Two German Navy sailors were injured in the incident. The FGS Sachsen, the first of four type 124 air defense frigates in German Navy service was attempting to launch a Standard SM-2 air defense missile.
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) June 27, 2018
The missile rocket motor in the warship ignited, however, the missile failed to clear the MK.41 verticle launch system silo. As a result, an explosion was followed by a short intense fire as the rocket motor burned. The fire was mostly out within seconds but the damage was extensive. Two of the crew members also suffered minor injuries. The reason for the missile getting stuck in the silo instead of leaping skyward is still unknown. Each SM-2 missile is nearly 15 feet long and weighs more than 1500 pounds. The Sachsen class frigates are designed to intercept enemy missiles and aircraft. They are equipped with 32 Mark 41 verticle launch silos built into the bow. The launch took place in front of the bridge. The photos and videos show that the exterior of the bridge suffered extensive scorching. The boxy Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launcher in front of the silo field looks a little brown but otherwise doesn’t seems like it has suffered too much.
The incident looks bad, however, it may have been worse. The explosion and fire could have spread to other missiles in the silo field but it did not. The Mark 41 launcher is armored and designed to work even after the ship suffers damage in combat. This factor almost certainly limited the damage in this incident. In July 2015, an SM-2 missile exploded soon after being launched by the guided-missile destroyer USS Sullivan. No injuries were reported in the incident.