Report of Investigation into the target drone that struck USS Chancellorsville in November 2013


USNINews has a (heavily redacted) copy of the command investigation that followed when a BQM-74E target drone struck the USS Chancellorsville during a tracking exercise.

It’s fairly technical, but even so, and with the redactions, you can get the gist of what happened. I’d be interested in hearing from any SWOs, particularly and AEGIS types.

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One response to “Report of Investigation into the target drone that struck USS Chancellorsville in November 2013

  1. NaCly Dog

    Back in the day (1983) CIWS testing cut through an inbound drone, with fragments killing a civilian PACE instructor on the USS Antrim (FFG-20). This and other events from the ’80s, well remembered by me, are not in the corporate memory.

    Lots of interesting stuff in this report.
    The ship realized things were pear-shaped after the first inbound drone, going 500 kts, hit the ship. The range controls were slow, the drone control system buggy and incomplete (but the operators thought it was great), with poor comms. When the test facility realized something was wrong, they tried to kill the data control link. The relevant operator asking for clarification, and had to be told to kill the link twice. After the control link was cut, the drone was to go into a safe mode. That safe mode effort took 11 seconds to complete, and the drone was 8 seconds away. The second inbound drone was succesfully turned prior to impact.

    The ship had one chance, with CIWS. The CIWS operator was alerted that there was a problem by a computer generated “recommendation to fire” button illuminated. The CIWS operatior was not on the primary command circuit. By the time he got to one of the people with weapons-release authority, there were only 5 seconds to impact. That decision time was too short to process and get an order out.

    I have seen a target sawn in half by CIWS, with one half of the inbound body falling into the ocean on the unengaged side of the ship. If the 455 pound drone had been shot up before hitting the ship, the fuel load may have been reduced, and the fragments smaller, spread out over a larger area. The onboard fire would have been less severe. As it was, the CO and CSO were the first responders, and the fire was out in less than 10 minutes. Only sustaining 2 minor injuries was a blessing.

    Some issues with doctrine, unannounced changes to doctrine, no range safety observer either at the test site or shipboard, and the initial brief all adds up to complacency.

    Bottom line: The event was old lessons imparted to new people.
    JMHO. SWO, not AEGIS.

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