A Navy guided missile cruiser hit by a malfunctioning drone during a training exercise returned to San Diego, where investigators will assess the damage and determine what went wrong, a Navy official said Sunday.
Two sailors were treated for minor burns after the USS Chancellorsville was struck by the unmanned aircraft during radar testing Saturday afternoon, off Point Mugu in Southern California.
Lt. Lenaya Rotklein of the U.S. Third Fleet said the drone — which was 13 feet long, 1 foot in diameter and had a wingspan of nearly 6 feet — hit the ship’s left, or port, side.
She said investigators at Naval Base San Diego are assessing the damage and determining why the drone malfunctioned.
About 300 crew members were aboard the ship. The Navy could not say how the two sailors were injured.
Rotklein identified the aerial drone as a BQM-74 series, manufactured by Aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. She said the Navy makes frequent use of the unmanned aircraft in testing for combat and weapons systems. According to the company website, the drones can simulate enemy missiles or airplanes.
An American drone has malfunctioned and crashed into a guided missile cruiser off the coast of Southern California, causing two injuries, say officials. The incident happened while the vessel was testing a combat weapons system.
Lt. Lenaya Rotklein of the US Third Fleet told AP the two sailors injured in the crash were being treated for minor burns. The remotely-controlled craft reportedly veered out of control during an operation to test the USS Chancellorsville’s combat weapons system on Saturday afternoon. Rotklein said the drone was being used to test the ship’s radar.
The guided missile carrier is now heading back to the San Diego Naval Base, where officials will assess the extent of the damage. In response to the accident, the Navy says it is opening an investigation to examine the possible causes.
This is the second drone crash to occur this week in the US after an unmanned craft malfunctioned and came down over Lake Ontario on Tuesday, prompting the suspension of all drone flights in the Central New York area.
The military was unable to say why the $4 million Reaper drone lost control and crashed, but reported there was no damage to civilian property or injuries.
Anti-drones activists have slammed the US government’s use of the unmanned craft on American soil, citing the increasing number of accidents.
“One of the notorious things about drones and Reapers is their high accident rate,” Ed Kinane a Syracuse-based peace activist told syracuse.com on Tuesday. “A general concern is that because the military is so in love with drones and the Reaper, it appears they have rushed these things into production.”
Bloomberg calculated in a 2012 survey that on average there were 9.31 accidents for every 100,000 hours of drone flight.
Nevertheless the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has resolved to push ahead with a plan to expand the use of drones in American airspace by 2015.