LOS ANGELES - A Navy guided missile cruiser returned to San Diego after it was struck by a malfunctioning aerial target drone during training off Southern California, causing two minor injuries. Investigators will now assess the damage and determine what went wrong.
Lt. Lenaya Rotklein of the U.S. Third Fleet said the accident on the San Diego-based USS Chancellorsville happened Saturday afternoon while the ship was testing its combat weapons system off Point Mugu.
She told 10News they were tracking the drone, which was remotely controlled from Point Mugu, at the time. The drone, which came from a training and testing facility at Point Mugu, flew out to do exercises with the ship.
Rotklein said the drone -- which was 13 feet long, 1 foot in diameter and had a wingspan of nearly 6 feet -- hit the ship's left, or port, side.
She said two sailors were treated for minor burns after the ship was struck.
Investigators at Naval Base San Diego are assessing the damage and determining why the drone malfunctioned. The ship had departed last Tuesday to do exercises.
Rotklein said the drone was being used to test the ship's radar. She had no immediate information on whether the drone has malfunctioned before.
About 300 crew members were aboard the ship.
Rotklein identified the aerial drone as a BQM-74 series, manufactured by Aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. She said the Navy makes frequent use of the unmanned aircraft in testing for combat and weapons systems. According to the company website, the drones can simulate enemy missiles or airplanes.