Missile Malfunction Damages Deck of German Navy Frigate FGS Sachsen

A missile malfunction has damaged the deck of the German Navy frigate FGS Sachsen (F219) and resulted in the injury of two of its sailors, on June 21.

When FGS Sachsen, an F124 Sachsen-class air-defense frigate, attempted to fire a Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) from the vertical launch system (VLS) container located in front of the ship’s bridge, the missile did not make it out of the launcher compartment. But the rocket burned down while still on board the ship, damaging the deck and injuring two crew members.

In view of the risk of fire on upper deck the crew responded quickly and the sprinkler system also started working immediately, said the Navy statement.

“We were standing in front of a glistening and glowing hot wall of fire,” said Thomas Hacken, the ship’s captain and the leader of the exercise.

“We have to practice realistically, so that we are ready for action in case of emergency, also for the national and alliance defense,” said Vice Admiral Andreas Krause, the marine inspector. “This would involve calculable risks, as the incident on the Sachsen shows. Nevertheless, our crews are highly motivated and ready to do their best”.

According to the Navy statement, there had been no evidence of technical defects in the launching system before firing the rocket and the rocket itself had also been technically checked and was in perfect condition. The statement added that another missile of the same type was earlier launched successfully from the ship.

During the incident, FGS Sachsen was sailing with FGS L├╝beck (F214), an F122 Bremen-class anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigate, in a test and practice area in the Arctic Circle off the coast of Norway. Following the incident, both ships entered the Norwegian port of Harstad on the morning of June 22 before returning to their homeport in the German city of Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea.

At the port, The crew of the frigate will first evaluate the damage more precisely in order to find causes and to estimate the extent of the necessary repairs.

Each Sachsen class frigates are outfitted with a 32-cell Mark 41 (Mk 41) Mod 10 Tactical Vertical Launching System (VLS) taht can be armed with SM-2 Block IIIA missiles. 24 SM-2 Block IIIA missiles along with 32 (quad-packs per cell) RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) are the primary anti-air weapons of the Sachsen class frigates.

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