Off the Coast of Florida, UK Suffers Missile 'Anomaly'

Submarine has a 'highly embarrassing' 2nd misfire of Trident missile
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2024 7:55 AM CST
Off the Coast of Florida, UK Suffers Missile 'Anomaly'
This video grab released on Wednesday shows a missile firing from the HMS Vigilant.   (Ministry of Defense, via AP)

A Trident missile shot off a British nuclear submarine in a test launch last month didn't fare well: It misfired and crashed into the waters off of Florida. Per Sky News, the UK Defense Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that an "anomaly" had taken place during the Jan. 30 missile launch from the HMS Vanguard, though an agency spokesperson insisted that the missile "remains safe, secure, and effective." The BBC, however, notes that the crash, the second failed test firing in a row for the UK, is "highly embarrassing" for both the Royal Navy and the manufacturer of the missile, Lockheed Martin.

The last failed test launch took place in 2016, when a missile fired off the HMS Vengeance went the wrong way and self-destructed, per the Sun. British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps was said to have been aboard the HMS Vanguard during last month's launch, which the outlet notes initially seemed to be going well, with the 58-ton missile loaded with warhead replicas "propelled into the air by compressed gas in the launch tube." But the missile's first-stage boosters never lit up, and the missile ended up plunging into the ocean. "It left the submarine, but it just went plop, right next to them," a source tells the paper.

The missile's target was supposed to be about 3,700 miles away in the Atlantic, somewhere between Brazil and Africa's west coast. In a statement, the Defense Ministry said the launch failure was "event specific" and insisted that had it been loaded up with actual warheads, it would've been a successful launch. "As a matter of national security, we cannot provide further information on this," the statement said. Officials also emphasize that Trident missiles have undergone nearly 200 successful tests involving both the UK and the United States. The AP notes that the Trident D5 missiles on board the Royal Navy's nuclear subs are the same ones used by the US Navy. (More nuclear missiles stories.)

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