Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Not All Missile Launches Go As Planned

An oldie but a goodie...

I think this video is from back in 1989. While we've now had over 120 consecutive successful test launches of Trident D-5 missiles, we tend to forget that these are highly complex machines where things can go badly wrong if they're not designed and maintained almost flawlessly -- as the Russians have relearned with their new Bulava missile.

Do any of you have any stories of missile launches that didn't work out as planned?


Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Start with PATRICK HENRY's first launch of Polaris. Bird fell back on the hovering boat, lit off, and then bounced down the deck. Boat thought it was game-over.

Or WOODROW WILSON's disastrous attempted launch of 4 Polaris in a CINC Evaluation Test in the late '60s. Closest any piece of hardware came to the target was 135 miles. From this firing and the brilliant work of Smoky Joe Russel, Jim Scruggs, and others came the firing and casualty procedures crews have used since the early '70s.

Or AX-1, the first pad shot of Polaris. An old-timer from Lockheed gave me a piece of the first stage 'rozzle,' the rotatable nozzle that the fire comes out of and that steers the bird in first stage flight (hope this isn't too technical...). I said I didn't think these were supposed to be recovered. He said it landed on the roof of Hangar Y at the Cape after our first Polaris launch came apart in spectacular fashion.

Even earlier were the many failed tests of Navy's Vanguard at Cape Canaveral. Some started calling the bird the Civil Servant: it didn't work and you couldn't fire it.

10/10/2008 4:07 AM

Blogger Chief Torpedoman said...

"Some started calling the bird the Civil Servant: it didn't work and you couldn't fire it."

Now that is funny! :-)

10/10/2008 5:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall seeing film fottage of an Abraham Lincoln SSBN 600 shot at the cape in early 60(?) A1 missile didn't lite off, fell back on the boat and broke in half at the interstage section of the missle. second stage rocket motor lite off and what was left of the missle came out of the water corkscrewing along the surface headed toward an old 2250 DD that was the range safety ship. You could see smoke start pouring out of her stacks as she went to flank speed to clear the area. From then on the range safety ship was waaay far away from the launch area. All you could see from then on was their mast tops. Had former TM shipmate that was on the 600 boat. told me when the misslle fell back on the boat the 4 jetavators on the first stage were like 4 big cookie cutters on the missile deck.

Keep a zero bubble......


10/10/2008 10:43 AM

Blogger Chief Torpedoman said...

"...4 jetavators on the first stage were like 4 big cookie cutters on the missile deck."

I remember looking up at those jetavators many times in the eject chamber underneath an old A2. I can well imagine the mark they would leave on the missile deck!

10/10/2008 12:18 PM

Blogger MT1(SS) said...

Definitely an "oldie but goodie." One notable thing about this launch is the 19-second delay from the initial failure (at 6 seconds into video) to the command destruct of the missile.

No, the missile isn't supposed to go "BOOM" when command destructed for a test launch. The destruct system is designed to vent the rocket motors and gas generators in such a fashion as to cause them to tumble (as seen in the video) and impart zero net thrust.

10/10/2008 1:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard this failed D-5 test affectionately called, the D-5 wire clearance maneuver!

10/10/2008 4:36 PM

Blogger Oz said...

Not quite a launch, but...

10/10/2008 6:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSBN 600 was the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Abraham Lincoln was SSBN 602

10/10/2008 10:58 PM

Anonymous Veemann said...

This is a video of an SS-N-20 launch not Trident II D5. There hasn't been a failed D5 launch of Trident II since PEM-1 aka the pin wheel missile.

10/11/2008 6:25 PM

Blogger Jon said...

When I was on the Arkansas (CGN-41) we had a number of failed SM-2 launches where the missiles would go wildly out of control and had to be command detonated during the flight.

12/11/2009 1:52 PM


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