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The Military

Two Sailors Injured When Drone Crashes Into US Navy Guided Missile Cruiser 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the off-target dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that two sailors were hurt when a drone malfunctioned and crashed into the Chancellorsville, a 567-foot Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, as the ship operated off the Point Mugu area of Southern California in an area where BQM-74E aerial targets are widely used. The drone was being used to test the ship's radar tracking when it malfunctioned, veered out of control and struck the cruiser. 'No sailors were seriously injured, but two sailors were treated for minor burns,' the Navy said in a statement. 'The ship remains capable of operations. However, it did sustain some damage and will return to its homeport of San Diego to have the damage assessed. The Navy is investigating the cause of the malfunction.' Chancellorsville has one of the most advanced air defense systems in the Navy, and the ship regularly tests missiles off Southern California. In late August, Chancellorsville successfully used an SM-6 missile to hit a target drone off Point Mugu. The cruiser stocks a variety of missiles, including Tomahawks."
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Two Sailors Injured When Drone Crashes Into US Navy Guided Missile Cruiser

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  • Honey, I'm home!
  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Monday November 18, 2013 @09:43AM (#45454171)
    Its just a matter of time, keep firing on those drones and eventually they will fight back.
  • It's a 3 ton low speed aircraft crashing into an armored cruiser by definition designed to be shot at with things like shells and missiles and bombs and torpedoes. Surpising.
    • by Xest (935314) on Monday November 18, 2013 @09:56AM (#45454311)

      There's a difference between not sinking when struck by an object and being perfectly invulnerable to everything.

      These ships are designed to simply stay afloat and remain at least partially operational if struck, not have some kind of magic force field that stops even the paintwork being scratched if struck.

      This is the real world, not fantasy land. A 3 ton aircraft crashing into a warship is still going to cause a fair bit of damage. We haven't invented completely invulnerable metal yet.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Depends where it hits. Sure, the arms and fuel storage would be armored and the hull tough as hell, but what about all those sensitive electronics up above deck?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Armored cruiser? What is this, 1910? Modern ships have little to no passive armor anymore, it wouldn't help against cruise missiles anyway. Active defense is supposed to shoot anything down before it comes into visual range.

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:15AM (#45454551) Homepage Journal

      Define "armored". Then, refer to Jane's or any other listing of combat ships you might think of. You will note that we no longer have "armored" ships. No "pocket battleships", no "heavy cruisers", nothing of the sort. We're discussing a "guided missile cruiser" here, not a WWII heavy combat ship.

      Naval doctrine dropped armor in exchange for speed and stealth well before I was born, in the latter 50's. The Marines have more armor on an Abrams tank than any ship of the line has.

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday November 18, 2013 @11:07AM (#45455075)

        Exactly... by the time these boats get hit my a modern weapon, it's over. It's kind of like how Cannons made castle walls pointless.

        • The Best Defense is a Good Offense.

          That's been a solid doctrine of military warfare for the entirety of modern combat, and extends beyond the military into professional sports and business.

      • We just ordered a whole bunch of "ice hardened" corvettes (I thought they were supposed to be frigates, but I don't really know the difference anyway).

        I can see how this will influence Canadian naval Strategy...

        1st Officer: "Sir radar detects an enemy vessel off our port bow!"
        Captain: "Yar! Tis be time for battle me maties! Ahead full to ramming speed, we'll stave in this gobber good!"

        Enemy radarman: "Um, there appears to be a ship coming towards us slowly..."
        Enemy Captain: "Distance?!"
        Enemy radarman: "17 K

      • by Quila (201335)

        Or dropped armor because it was useless. Nowdays torpedo belts and bulges are useless because torpedoes normally explode under the ship, braking its back. Modern shaped charges in missiles can pierce all but armor so thick the ship would be unusable, and other missiles just dive onto the deck and blow up below decks.

        • Also - given the option of a nuclear warhead, no amount of armor would ever be enough.

          http://www.seaforces.org/wpnsys/SURFACE/RUR-5-ASROC.htm [seaforces.org]

          The article is somewhat misleading - but it's close enough for government work. It's safe to say that my ship, up against any of the famous battleships of World War 2 would have a 60/40 chance of success. It would boil down to who saw whom first. If they fire first, we're dead - if we get an Asroc in the water first, then they are dead.

          • by Quila (201335)

            It would boil down to who saw whom first.

            With AWACS, OTH radar and satellite feeds, that would be you, every time.

            • Our ship doesn't have AWACS, and I was dismissing that along with satellite for the same reason - it isn't part of our ship. The ship's own radar isn't OTH either. Just our onboard capabilities, against theirs - I only give us 60/40 odds. Most of our advantage comes from sonar, not radar. But, they were damned good at what they did.

              Either way - it would be a one-shot kill. Those huge cannon would sink us with a single near miss, while our Asroc would do the same to them.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:20AM (#45454595)
      It wasn't a 3 ton drone. It was most likely a BQM-74 [wikipedia.org], which weighs 600 lb empty. They've been flying them since 1965. It doesn't really have a lot to do with Predators, Reapers, etc.
    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Monday November 18, 2013 @11:50AM (#45455439)

      It's a 3 ton low speed aircraft crashing into an armored cruiser by definition designed to be shot at with things like shells and missiles and bombs and torpedoes. Surpising.

      The BQM-74E has a gross weight of 549 pounds, not 3 tons, and it can fly around 600mph. I am certainly not a physicist, but even I can remember p=mv. If the mass is 249kg, and the velocity is 260 m/s, then the momentum is around 65,000 Netwons per second. In comparison, a bullet will typically carry less than 1 Newton per second of momentum. So yeah, if you get by 65 kilonewtons per second, there's going to be some damage.

      A 3-ton object moving at the same speed would have over 700 kilonewtons per second of momentum.

      • I never know. Is it the momentum or the kinetic energy that hurts?

        • I'm pretty sure it all hurts. Using the same numbers, the kinetic energy would be 8.4 megajoules of energy. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a lot of joules. If my math is right, that's about equal to the energy released by 4 pounds of TNT. If that's too confusing, just think of it as the power needed to light a lightbulb requiring 8.4 million watts for 1 second. Or an 8-ton vehicle moving at around 100mph. Or, if you can imagine an apple weighing 840,000 kilograms, it's the energy r

    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday November 18, 2013 @11:51AM (#45455447)

      Not at all.

      Note, that it didn't sink or get disabled.

    • by Duhavid (677874)

      Armor: limited Kevlar splinter protection in critical areas

      It really isn't Armored at all.

    • by Solandri (704621)
      The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser [fas.org] eschews armor in favor of an electronic aerial defense system designed to keep away/destroy threats before they come close enough to attack the ship. It's actually built on a destroyer hull [wikipedia.org]. You know, the things affectionately called tin cans in the Navy. Whatever armor they have is minimal. In geeky RPG terms, it's your evasive rogue, not your beefy tank.

      There's been criticism of how effective these AEGIS ships are, especially after the Iranian airliner s
    • by ElSergio (1956248)
      On these ships, you can't blow a fart without hitting electronics, some form of explosives, or a person.
  • by Austrian Anarchy (3010653) on Monday November 18, 2013 @09:52AM (#45454271) Homepage Journal
    Vaguely reminds me of a Phalanx incident [wikipedia.org]

    On October 11, 1989, the USS El Paso was conducting a live fire exercise off the east coast of the United States using the Phalanx against a target drone. The drone was successfully engaged, but as the drone fell to the sea, the CIWS re-engaged it as a continued threat to the El Paso. Rounds from the Phalanx struck the bridge of the USS Iwo Jima, killing one officer and injuring a petty officer.

    Those navy vessels are dangerous places to work, even in practice.

    • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak@NOspam.speakeasy.net> on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:17AM (#45454569) Homepage

      Military operations of ALL sorts are dangerous. . . You train and train and have safety procedures to mitigate things, but every so often Murphy's Law causes an accident.

      There is a reason that the day I graduated from flight school, they told us to look at every face in the class, one of us would be dead inside of a year.

      Three weeks later, one of my classmates died in a C-130 crash. It's a risk that military people accept: you CAN'T do military ops AND have complete safety. . .

      • Military operations of ALL sorts are dangerous. . . You train and train and have safety procedures to mitigate things, but every so often Murphy's Law causes an accident.

        There is a reason that the day I graduated from flight school, they told us to look at every face in the class, one of us would be dead inside of a year.

        Three weeks later, one of my classmates died in a C-130 crash. It's a risk that military people accept: you CAN'T do military ops AND have complete safety. . .

        Nobody said anything like that when I graduated from Rucker in 1986. Nobody I knew was injured or died in a helicopter until Desert Storm.

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:21AM (#45454611) Homepage Journal

      Yeah - and I can tell you about an older missile that was quite dangerous as well.

      Often times, we would fire a Tartar missile at a target. The damned thing may or may not get a lock on target in the first minute of flight. If it failed to lock, it would start searching for a target. Far, far out at sea, far beyond sport fishermen's territory, when a missile starts searching for something to kill, what is the easiest target to spot? Oh yeah - that would be US - the platform from which it was launched.

      We never fired a missile without the guns manned up, ready to fire. I never kept count, but I know that I witnessed at least a half dozen of those things coming back at us.

      No, we never missed a gunnery target, no matter how fast, how high, how low - we ALWAYS killed when we fired a 5" 54 caliber gun.

      • by cellocgw (617879)

        Often times, we would fire a Tartar missile at a target. The damned thing may or may not get a lock on target in the first minute of flight. If it failed to lock, it would start searching for a target. Far, far out at sea, far beyond sport fishermen's territory, when a missile starts searching for something to kill, what is the easiest target to spot? Oh yeah - that would be US - the platform from which it was launched.

        We never fired a missile without the guns manned up, ready to fire. I never kept count, but I know that I witnessed at least a half dozen of those things coming back at us.

        So, serious question: no IFF electronics in those missiles? how about modern navy missiles?

        • Tartars were very dumb missiles. Smart for their day, but still very dumb. I can't say what the newer missiles can do today - I haven't worn a uniform since 1983. It's probably safe to ASSume that today's missiles are a lot more sophisticated, but then, we have this story. One of the United State's most sophisticated drones has crashed into a US Navy ship. Some dude named Murphy probably had his fingers in it.

          http://murphyslaws.net/ [murphyslaws.net]

    • The military is a hazardous career, even in peacetime.
  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday November 18, 2013 @09:59AM (#45454339)

    Chancellorsville has one of the most advanced air defense systems in the Navy[...]

    But it could not defend itself against a runaway drone. Very impressive.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Chancellorsville has one of the most advanced air defense systems in the Navy[...]

      But it could not defend itself against a runaway drone. Very impressive.

      There are multiple reasons that could have happened. It could have been too close to defend against - e.g. coming in to land, or the IFF [wikipedia.org] could have been tagged as friendly.

    • by bobbied (2522392) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:15AM (#45454535)

      Chancellorsville has one of the most advanced air defense systems in the Navy[...]

      But it could not defend itself against a runaway drone. Very impressive.

      Seriously, that drone was *supposed* to be in the area. You don't sail around in peace time with the system on hair trigger and shoot at everything you can or cannot identify just because it it gets close. You need to be REALLY sure before you shoot down something or really bad things can result.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Defensive measures are themselves very dangerous and only to be used in combat or tightly controlled exercise conditions. Shooting up a nearby ship with CIWS would do much more damage than crashing a smallish UAV into it.

    • Defense is very tricky - perhaps you've heard of Pearl Harbor or 9/11?

      They should really change the name back to the War Department.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      There is a type of exercise called a tracking exercise that is designed to test how well the radar tracks the target and how well the crew responds. All the weapons are locked down so they do not accidentally destroy the drone. Several of these tracking exercises can be run with the same drone. Notice that some drones [wikipedia.org] are recoverable and not meant to always be shot down.

    • Dr. Charles Luther strikes again!
  • re: In late August, Chancellorsville successfully used an SM-6 missile to hit a target drone

    Clearly, there is a history to be examined.

  • Drones make the news these days, for obvious reasons. However, it is important to note that this was not a drone such as the ones we tend to think of these days, taking out terror suspects, etc. This was an old-fashioned target drone, the type the Navy has been using for forty years. Basically a step up from an RC aircraft, with not a lot of smarts, and designed to be shot up. If this accident had happened thirty years ago no one outside of the Navy would have taken note of it.

  • by bjdevil66 (583941) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:26AM (#45454671)

    I know these new Navy ships have had critics about various things, including the weakness of their armor. I thought that maybe they were overstating that, but I saw video today of the hole punched in the side of the ship and was surprised. That was just a drone crashing into the side (vs. some form of live ordinance - missile, artillery, etc. - designed to penetrate and destroy) and it punched a hole like it was a bullet going through a car door.

    Maybe the Navy does need to take a second look at the armor on these boats?

    • by rossdee (243626) on Monday November 18, 2013 @11:14AM (#45455109)

      With a modern large surface combatant like a cruiser, the idea is to prevent the missile from hitting it in the first place.
      The CIWS should have been able to blow that drone apart with 20mm depleted uranium ammo.
      But maybe it wasn't switched on.

      Maybe the Navy does need to take a second look at the armor on these boats?"

      A shaped charge waepon cuts through steel armor like a hot knife through butter. (like a larger version of an anti-tank missle.
      This was a ship, not a boat btw, the navy does have some fairly tough boats, but they work best underwater.

    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday November 18, 2013 @12:04PM (#45455561)

      Or maybe they've spent more time and money that you working out what will work best.

      I strongly suspect (though I'm not interested enough to actually research it) that modern (and not so modern, battleships were going out of style long ago) anti-ship weaponry is deadly enough that the amount of armor required to defend against it would not be practical. Thus you instead make ships that are harder to it, and if one gets through the active defenses you are done anyway - so there's not much point in heavy armor.

      You take the extra anti-missile defense system (of whatever flavor) that might stop you from getting hit over the extra armor that will be smashed through as it it wasn't there if you take the hit anyway.

      • While that may be true, the groups that make these decisions are the same folks who decided F-4s didn't need guns, because the day of the dogfight was over. If F-4s had been used under the conditions that these people envisioned, they would have been right. However, the rules of engagement during Vietnam precluded use of the F-4 as designed, so you had pilots get into some deep doo-doo because they didn't have a means to retaliate against enemy fighers after launching all of their missiles. I can easily
    • by codepunk (167897)

      Well being that it is a expensive drone I doubt they had weapons free on it. Had they been able to engage with with VLS surface to air missiles and CIWS it would have been shredded to bits.

  • Hack our drones and crash them into our own ships. Apparently, a navy cruiser with one of the most advanced air defense systems was no defense for a malfunctioning drone. This is how we lose the war folks.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/17/us/drone-malfunction-duplicate-2/ [cnn.com] :-(

    • It's going to take on hell of a long time to 'lose a war' when damage consists of two minor injuries and some sheet metal work.

      "What 'de do? Nibble your bum?"

      Run Away! Run Away!

    • Apparently, a navy cruiser with one of the most advanced air defense systems was no defense for a malfunctioning drone.

      As has been pointed out, and as 5 minutes of consideration would reveal, theres a pretty good chance all of the defenses were not on and were not in "kill mode" during a training exercise. Theres also a pretty good chance they were not in "lets kill our training drone" mode.

  • I couldnt find the statistics on google. However unless otherwise noted, I doubt if the rate betweent he two aircraft types are that different.
  • Mr. Prosser: Do you know how much damage this battleship would sustain if I just let the drone fly right into it?
    Arthur: How much?
    Mr. Prosser: Some!

  • I blame it on a lightning strike [wikipedia.org].
  • Please use only the oven specifically designated for this purpose. Thank you.

  • Educational Post (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 18, 2013 @02:24PM (#45456749)

    Hi folks, anonymous Fire Control education available here.

    A little research will show that the Chancellorsville received an Aegis Modernization upgrade last year, and earlier this year also had their combat system software patched again.

    The ship was likely involved in a Detect-to-Engage scenario with the BQM-74 drone acting in an anti-ship missile profile, or enhanced to provide a radar return like a strike aircraft (Source: wikipedia)

    In this sort of scenario, whether off the California or Hawaiian coasts, the ship's weapons systems are SAFED. The firing inhibt keys are in place. The ship cannot actually fire. There are scenarios where the drone would be fired upon, but generally with dummy munitions, and the telemetry would be recovered from the drone to indicate if the ship would have had a successful hit.

    Given that I've done these particular exercises before in my (previous) career, it sounds like the first scenario. They were testing the newest software to ensure that the combat system internally processed the drone's attack profile correctly and the ship was able to successfully send engagement and targeting data to the weapons systems, without actually releasing any munitions.

    Having served on an identical guided missile cruiser to the Chancellorsville, I can also discuss conjecture about ship's armor. We're not really armored like people think of anymore. The superstructure on modern ships contains a lot of aluminium, to save weight. (this also causes significant corrosion problems in older ships) Especially in the case of the top-heavy deckhouses of an Aegis Cruiser. The critical spaces in the superstructure DO have armor, but this is more to ensure that blast fragments don't penetrate. A direct hit on a critical equipment room would still cause significant damage.
    http://www.10news.com/news/military/malfunctioning-drone-hits-san-diego-based-navy-ship-uss-chancellorsville-while-training-2-injured

    This link contains video showing the puncture from the drone striking the ship. It punctured like this because you're looking at a thin bulkhead; there's a covered exterior passageway right there through the deckhouse on both port and starboard side. Interior to that are a couple of gear lockers; again, inconsequential and unarmored. Deeper in than that you would find some armored spaces.

    Likely the fuel from the drone ignited, causing a small fire and damaging these gear lockers and assorted deck equipment kept within. My ship kept the small skiff used for painting the hull inport stored there, along with rope and other lines.

    I'm interested in how/why Point Mugu lost control of the drone.

    • by codepunk (167897)

      Exactly if the ship would have been weapons free and engaging with missiles and CIWS that drone would have been turned into a shredded fireball.

  • when one of these things slams into a residential area.
  • by Hognoxious (631665)

    Wild guess: drone operator was texting?

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