US 'friendly fire' kills five
Saturday 03 October 1992
The USS Saratoga inexplicably fired two Sea Sparrow missiles, normally used to shoot down aircraft, at the Turkish destroyer Muavenet during Nato's 'Display Determination '92' war games in the Aegean Sea late on Thursday.
One missile blasted a hole in the destroyer's bridge, killing the five and wounding 15 crewmen, some seriously. The second appears to have fallen into the sea. The vessels were about three miles apart, 80 miles west of Izmir.
Defence experts believe junior officers on the carrier may have been under stress after a long spell at sea during which they were primed for a possible conflict with Iraq. In the heat of a realistic mock-up, a rating in charge of the fire control console may have pressed the button to launch the Sea Sparrows instead of simply tracking the 'enemy'.
Sensing no real target after their release, the Sea Sparrows, because they are not fully guided 'fire and forget' weapons, would have headed for the nearest target, in this case the Turkish vessel.
'These missiles have only a semi-active homing system,' said Paul Beaver, of Jane's Defence Weekly. 'You give them their launch parameters, but they find the rest of the way themselves. Once the human errors were made, it could have been a radio, or a telephone on the Turkish ship's bridge that caused them to home in. The weapons console is not unlike a desk computer, with the fire button covered by a plastic shield. It is not inconceivable that they were doing a tracking exercise and someone forgot to stop.
'Some of these exercises can be pretty tense and the man in control of the button would only have been a rating. The missiles are always armed but live firing exercises were not due to start until next week.'
US and Nato officers, and the US administration, were quick to apologise to the Turks, who left no doubt they considered the firing a tragic accident. But it revived memories of other 'friendly fire' incidents and accidents involving US forces, notably the US air force attack on British troops in the Gulf war and the shooting down of an Iranian commercial airliner by the USS Vincennes in the Gulf in 1988.
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
A very timely Great Train Robbery and a frantic 24 Hours in A&E among the highlights
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Colin Farrell reveals ‘affair’ with Elizabeth Taylor: 'She was my last romantic relationship'
Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Peter O'Toole: Tales of the late film icon
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 Facebook 'self-censorship': study records when you don't post to find more ways to share
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful - study
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£100 - £125 per day + Negotiable on role: Randstad Education London: Are you f...
£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A full time teacher job a...
£125 - £135 per day + Long Term Roles are negotiable: Randstad Education Londo...
£125 - £135 per day + negotiable for long term roles: Randstad Education Londo...