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Target Drone Crashes Into Navy Cruiser

by Kris Osborn on November 20, 2013

110706-N-UO379-255Authorities and Navy officials are investigating the cause of an accident this past Saturday off the coast of Southern California wherein a small unmanned aircraft system crashed into a Navy cruiser, the USS Chancellorsville, service officials confirmed.

The drone was being used as part of a training exercise when it malfunctioned above the surface, crashing down into the ship, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Two sailors suffered minor burns in the incident, Navy officials told the paper.

Sailors aboard the ship were using the drone to test the ship’s radar tracking system. The USS Chancellorsville is an Aegis cruiser meaning it is equipped with ballistic missile defense technology, including radar. The crew of the ship was performing what’s called Combat System Ship Qualification Trials, according to the U.S. Naval Institute News.

The damaged ship is now on its way back to San Diego for further analysis, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The 13-foot target drone is a Northrop Grumman BMQ-74 hit areas near the ship’s Command Information Center, or CIC, according to U.S. Naval Institute News. The CIC is one of the most armored areas of the ship as it houses the control room for the Aegis radar system, USNI stated.

The operator of the BQM-74 lost control of the drone during the test before it struck the ship, USNI added.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

octopusmagnificens November 20, 2013 at 1:43 am

"It was the machines, Sarah".


Big-B November 20, 2013 at 4:56 am

Its not skynet, its murphys law.

Good to read only two sailors with minor injuries. Didnt know these ships are so well armoured. Get well soon.

I know it was just a test and probably it was not planned to shoot down the BMQ-74 but wasnt there enought time between "looking good" and the "oops incoming" to kill it with CIWS?


Scott Robinson November 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm

This was a trackex. CIWS would be tagged out so it is not accidentally fired.


ike November 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm

What? Well armored? The Ticonderoga cruisers are not armored. That's why even a small light drone like BMQ-74 can punch a hole. An Exocet would have gone all the way in and gutted half of the superstructure.


john November 20, 2013 at 7:59 am

CIWS would not normally be loade4d at this time.


Talosian November 20, 2013 at 8:45 am

o.k., but maybe this incident provides a reason to review the s.o.p.
– having loaded CIWS switched on would have likely prevented the damage.


frank November 20, 2013 at 8:53 am

Better, faster, cheaper…whoops.


ike November 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm

What are you talking about? The Ticonderoga? It's not better, nor faster, nor cheaper.


blight_ November 20, 2013 at 9:10 am


Anyone know if the CIWS would have been loaded but locked out, or locked out /and/ unloaded for safety reasons?

The drone missed its turn and smacked into the CG.


TomUK November 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm
blight_ November 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

That link got posted to Wikipedia's Phalanx CIWS page…it would be embarrassing if CIWS did fire on the target and failed to bring it down.


ike November 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm

What? The Ticon is world's most advanced ship? Who said that and when? None of the US naval surface combatants has a reliable defense in a serious naval shootout, especially when the incoming missiles are supersonic.


blight_ November 25, 2013 at 10:32 am

Nobody has a good solution for supersonic missiles. Soviet Navy was prepared to throw waves of nuclear supersonic missiles and torpedoes at us during the Cold War. We've had that long to put together an effective defense.

Not sure if we've really tested supersonic weapons. A drone flying at mach 2 (let alone Mach 3) would've smacked the CG-62 very, very painfully if it missed its turn.


Dfens November 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

Lucky for us the remotely controlled aircraft was not a weapon. Imagine the damage it could have inflicted if it were. Perhaps if we made our naval vessels with even thinner skins they'd be able to add another knot or so to their top speed at the cost of being able to defend themselves from "drone attacks".


ike November 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm

LOL. There is a better solution: Don't ever get into a naval battle against a modern foe, or one who has a lot of anti-ship missiles.


AJH November 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

No, CIWS would not have been loaded. See USS Antrim and USS El Paso ShootEXs in the ’80s. Live fire CIWS has a good chance for blowback and collateral damage. Because of those and other incidents, a Live Fire Operation is well-planned in advance, and there is no call to activate or prep mounts unless it’s absolutely called for.


Talosian November 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

Interesting. Thanks.


TonyC. November 20, 2013 at 10:02 am

The drone lost communications near a ABM capable ship, probably was jammed by mistake.


Scott Robinson November 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Nope, just lost RF command link.


Mark November 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

My thinking exactly…


ASME November 20, 2013 at 10:09 am

The BQM-74 is not a 'drone'. It is a target Pt Mugu routinely uses during exercises and tests.


blight_ November 20, 2013 at 10:43 am

It's a target drone. Sadly, everything that doesn't have a fleshy pilot is a "drone" these days.


Riceball November 20, 2013 at 11:07 am

It wasn't an accident, it was those sneaky Iranians at it again, they tried to hack this drone to get it to fly to them and it didn't work. Or maybe it was the Chinese. :D


ike November 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Not the Iranians nor the CHinese. They already know that these tin cans are sitting ducks for their anti-ship missiles. That's why the Navy hasn't done a thing after Iran called their bluffs.


Clint Notestine November 20, 2013 at 1:08 pm

should zigged when they zagged


ken November 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Every time a missiles hits a US warship the Phalanx is turned off……


ike November 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Not just Phalanx. The radar, the AWACS, even the phones if necessary.


Rest Pal November 23, 2013 at 3:27 am

The NFL and college football are more important than the stupid old target drone test. Make love, not war, while you are on a cruise ship.


Rest Pal November 23, 2013 at 3:22 am

I'm sure it's just a coincidence. HaHaHa.


old November 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm

62 was the newjersey i didnt know we reused the numbers on our ships


orly? November 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm

USS New Jersey BB-62 is different than USS Chancellorsville CG-62.

Note the designations.


blight_ November 21, 2013 at 9:38 am

The Navy has re-used names as long as ships have had names, and numbers since they started numbering ships.

ACR-1, USS Maine (of "Remember the Maine" fame)
BB-1, USS Indiana
CV-1, USS Langley
DD-1, USS Bainbridge


bulldurham48 November 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Don't worry, we have plenty of money to do the repairs with and oh bye the way the 2 men will recover. Again money wasted on the new future fly boys who wear plaid suits. If these clowns had to pay for all the damage they did or all the lives they destroyed or messed up there would be a lot less of the playing with Drones and more time spent on worthwhile endeavors. But of course the defense contractors would not make as many millions and the congressmen and women involved would not receive as much money in their re=election funds or private bank accounts and the poor lobbyist would not get their millions and again the congress folks would not again get more money from the lobbyist. Stop all congressional campaign donations by anyone in the defense industry or associated businesses and of course the poor lobbyist, who are also out of office politicians. A vicious circle of greed, fraud and stealing around and around it goes.


CaptainObvious November 20, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Chances are Phalanx failed, this is a cover-up.


Don Woodrum November 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

The USS Chancellorsville is an Aegis cruiser meaning it is equipped with ballistic missile defense technology,

The Aegis system cannot defend against a Ballistic Missile, nor defend a Battle Group against a BLM. The Ageis can defend against other type missile attacks,
but NOT a missile that is considered Ballistic Missile.


CaptainObvious November 22, 2013 at 12:02 am

LMAO? What other types of missiles?


Rest Pal November 23, 2013 at 3:32 am

Has anyone noticed how ugly the Ticonderoga looks? Wouldn't it be better to have them sunk so that you can order some newer, better looking ships like the Chinese 052D destroyer?


Mark November 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I wonder if when you turn the RADAR trackers on if it jams the aircraft controls? Hmmm….


John mccian June 5, 2014 at 11:43 pm

PMA 208 created this problem by picking a old radio frequency that any ham operator can jam to control the target. Never learn from past frequency problems and you will repeat them.


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bulldurham48 November 21, 2013 at 7:27 am

Right, we need more and more ability to kill our enemies. When will there ever be anything good enough or when will it ever be too much? If you remember the real cold war, we had enough nukes and missiles to deliver them to destroy the entire world 100 times over, yet, many of the defense contractors and many of Congress wanted more. What the hell for? Overkill is now what is going on again. Enough is enough period. Just how many different ways to kill our enemies do we need?When will it ever be enough? Just think of what we could do with the money we spend on over kill. You need to explain when enough is enough, the American people all want to know? Now instead of having troops to fight wars, we want more machines, over which we actually have only limited control. Cut the troops, cut their pay and benefits and add more tecjh, really smart. Who will be trusted to use this stuff?Some under paid soldier who despises his leaders for cutting his pay and benefits, or some new tech soldier they are now creating? Think about where and how we are going. Scary isn't it?


bulldurham48 November 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm

my comments were deleated by administrator, but the sum was then you pay the bills and leave me and my familys tax money alone rich man.


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