Fire Scout crashes into the USS Charleston

A US Navy-operated Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout has crashed into the side of the Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston (LCS-18), while the vessel was transiting through the Western Pacific to Guam on April 26.

The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed into the side of the USS Charleston just after it took off from the ship at approximately 1540hrs (local time). No one was injured and the vessel continued to operate safely in the Western Pacific following the incident. Following its impact, the stricken Fire Scout subsequently fell into the sea and was not recovered.

MQ-9B [US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Butler]
Sailors charge the battery of MQ-8B Fire Scout BuNo 168452 ‘N28’ from HSC-21 aboard Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18), on March 27, 2021. An HSC-21 MQ-8B from the vessel was lost on April 26 after it collided with the ship. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Butler

The MQ-8B’s mishap damaged a safety net on the ship and struck the hull. The cause of the incident is under investigation and the overall damage to the USS Charleston is being assessed, but that damage appears limited to an area above the waterline.

The Fire Scout involved in the incident was BuNo 168452 ‘N28’ and was assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 (HSC-21) ‘Blackjacks’, which is based at Naval Air Station North Island in California. The UAV was assigned to the Charleston as part of the vessel’s current mission.