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A missile aboard the USS The Sullivans malfunctioned and exploded during a training exercise off the coast of Virginia.

Falling debris ignited a small fire aboard the ship, but there were no injuries reported. The destroyer returned to Naval Station Norfolk, without assistance.  Naval Sea Systems Command says it’s too soon to know if the explosion will affect the ship’s schedule.

The missile – believed to be an older Raytheon Standard Missile 2 Block IIIA – was unarmed. It’s unclear what caused it to explode.

The SM-2 Block IIIA, first fielded in 1991, was developed to not only handle traditional air threats like fighters but was modified to interdict sea skimming targets like cruise missiles, according to the US Naval Institute. Photos obtained by the institute show an apparent problem with the rocket engines.


An investigation into the malfunction has been ordered and is being conducted by the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems, which is part of Naval Sea Systems Command.

The USS Carney was performing the missile exercise alongside The Sullivans, but it was not damaged.

The incident occurred Saturday around 9 a.m.

 

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