German frigate Sachsen has suffered significant damage as a result of a misfiring missile.

The accident happened last week, June 21st, off Norwegian coast. We understand from local media reports that only two crew members were hurt, sustaining minor injuries.

The missile was launched from launcher in front of the bridge, but didn’t take off and burned out in launcher, inflicting serious damage.

This comes at a bad time for the German military, not long after the scathing ‘Report on the Operational Readiness of the Bundeswehr’s Primary Weapons Systems’ was published. The report lead the Bundestag’s military commissioner, Hans-Peter Bartels, to complain about “large holes in personnel and equipment” in the Bundeswehr that have resulted in two thirds of the German armed forces being being non-operational.

The problem, he explained, has worsened over time due to the German military not replacing out of date equipment.

The German Navy temporarily lost its last submarine in October, as the rudder of its last Type 212A was severely damaged in a collision with a rock off the Norwegian coast while the rest of the fleet was out of service. It is also understood that none of the new frigates, the Type 125s, are able to enter into operational service due to defects and a similar situation is faced by auxiliary ships, Berlin and Bonn, which were sent to dry dock for a year and a half of repairs.

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Looks like no one was badly hurt thankfully. Locating VLS or other launchers right in front of the bridge does seem odd. The T23s and T45s have Harpoon right in front of it. Doesn’t seem the best location to me, unless I am missing something. What if the misfire resulted in the warhead exploding? It would take out the bridge and most of the officers.


I believe only two crew members suffered minor injuries. Most likely from banging their heads on the roof after jumping out of their skins.


The shielding on the launcher seems to have held up pretty well all considering. Its really strange the rocket booster appears to have performed as expected so not sure how it didn’t propel it out of the launcher. There is a photo online showing the aftermath of the launchers and it shows the lid of a launcher sitting 1/4 open but id like to think the missile wouldn’t launch unless it was fully opened.

Stewart Gordon

T45 doesn’t have Harpoon. T23’s did but are launched to port and starboard from angled launchers. T45 is fitted with Sea-Viper a VL missile fired from its own canister

Paul T

Srewart – not quite correct,4 of the 6 T45’s have/are to be fitted with Harpoon Launchers recovered from the retired T22 B3 Frigates.


Blimey! I hope no one was hurt.

Daniele Mandelli


Awaiting professionals explanation on here. Gunbuster?

A missile fault or launcher fault?

Ian Skinner

Can it get any worse for the German armed forces at the moment?


Bad enough, and thank goodness there appear to be no injuries, but it could have been so much worse. Suppose the warhead had detonated and triggered off other missiles. Don’t know if that is likely or even possible, but maybe someone more knowledgeable could comment.


Most modern VLS systems are strengthened so that if a missile detonates in its cell the explosion is contained within said cell. I think the correct way to do this is what the Russians do which is to install the launch systems at a slight angle so that a failed missile is ejected over the side instead of detonating in its cell.


Thanks, Chris.


I wonder whether dedicated Sea Ceptor (SC) canisters are angled, for instance what did they do on the T23 conversions? If a SC fails to launch then presumably that’s just the compressed gas not going off and none of the other systems are activated (e.g. thrusters might safety-catched by an accelerometer) so not a dangerous situation. If however the soft launch did toss the missile up to the 30m (I believe) ejection height and the orientation thrusters failed to fire it would drop back down and by the looks of the test firing videos I have seen that would be… Read more »


If I remember correctly from when I was stood next to them the SC tubes do have a slight angle on them that points outboard. Hopefully that’s enough to put any temperamental missile into the water and not onto the deck. I’m not sure what the initiator circuit is for a SC motor so I cannot say the motor will fire no matter what after a cold launch.

On the second point As you almost always have ahead speed on when doing a shoot the what goes up must come down scenario is usually avoided!


Many thanks for the info Gunbuster, and for the very interesting stuff on Mk41 hang fire & misfire stuff below. I can’t believe I disconnected my brain enough to think an upward firing missile might actually land back on the firing ship since, even if that did by some miracle look likely to happen, a simple change of speed would avoid it. I guess my childhood bow-and-arrow near death experience must have clouded my thinking! In case any physicists are reading, I, and I am sure Gunbuster, are aware that in pure theory (i.e. no wind or air resistance effects)… Read more »

Evan P

Surely the ship is not going fast enough such that the missile, when it falls, falls overboard? Yes the chance of the missile falling back exactly where it was launched is tiny, but it would still land further back on the ship wouldn’t it? (Ignoring the angling of launchers)


In practice I suspect yes because of wind resistance but in theoretical physics terms the answer is no. It’s one of the somewhat counter-intuitive things about even classical physics (relativity and especially quantum mechanics are even less intuitive). The example I was first taught ironically does involve a ship and a naval weapon. The example is a sailing vessel moving forward at a good rate. A sailor climbs to the top of the mast with a cannonball, holds the cannonball out 50cm in front of the mast (he was metric – pretty cutting edge for the age) and drops it.… Read more »

Mike Saul
Daniele Mandelli

Ah HMS Gloucester.

When I was a child I visited her on Navy Days in Devonport.


Whats bad on that one is after the video of the incident.
The crew is stomping around the deck clearing up .
The deck at this point had quantities of unstable solid rocket motor propellant all over it. Tread on it and it could ruin your day.
That’s Sea Dart queens for you…

[…] Sursa: Uk defence journal […]


A lot of russian misfires on this footage


From the looks of the video, the boost motor fired (Orange flame) but the missile stayed in place. That would indicate that the missile restraining bolts did not release and the missile stayed put. That’s a Hang fire , not a Misfire. Misfires don’t ignite…Hang fires do. The efflux will have vented from not just the efflux vents in the launcher but also out of the missile tube. From the video the white blobs flying around would indicate that the motor broke up as well and spread itself over the upper deck. Somewhere in that burning mess is also going… Read more »

Steve M

Wow, now that’s a response.


It’s actually called a restrained firing. Not a hang fire. A hang fire is when there’s a delay between the weapon receiving a firing pulse and leaving the launcher. For a hangfire the weapon is still launched.


Well its always been a hangfire in the RN for the 30+ years I was trained and luckily only once did have to deal with one …


This is the worst incident I can ever recall…

Pretty horrendous to watch…

RIP Boys…


S’okay, the US will pay for it.

Ian 2

To me this shows the quality of the German build, the fact it damaged a small area and didn’t spread.

[…] entire submarine fleet is out of commission; recently one of its only frigates, the Sachsen,nearly blew itself up when one of its missiles failed to launch, and burned out on the launcher. The German Defense […]

[…] entire submarine fleet is out of commission; recently one of its only frigates, the Sachsen,nearly blew itself up when one of its missiles failed to launch, and burned out on the launcher. The German Defense […]

[…] entire submarine fleet is out of commission; recently one of its only frigates, the Sachsen,nearly blew itself up when one of its missiles failed to launch, and burned out on the launcher. The German Defense […]

[…] entire submarine fleet is out of commission; recently one of its only frigates, the nearly blew itself up when one of its missiles failed to launch, and burned out on the launcher. The German Defense […]