An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter crashed into the side of the littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Charleston (LCS-18) after taking off from the ship on April 26, the U.S. 3rd Fleet said Tuesday.
The MQ-8B took off from the Independence-variant LCS around 3:40 p.m. local time while the ship was in the Eastern Pacific as it sailed towards the Western Pacific Ocean region.
The Navy said nobody was injured and the LCS continues to operate safely after the incident. Notably, the aircraft fell into the sea and was not recovered.
The Navy is assessing damage to the vessel “but appears limited to an area above the waterline” and LCS-18 continues operations in the Western Pacific, the service said.
The service said the cause of the mishap is under investigation. The Fire Scout was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 based out of Naval Air Station North Island and was assigned to Charleston as part of this current mission.
The Navy statement noted the MQ-8B is about 32 feet long and 10 feet tall.
The Fire Scout is built by Northrop Grumman [NOC] and is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support, and precision targeting for other forces.
Earlier this month, the Charleston successfully test launched a sea-based Rolling Airframe Missile (SeaRAM) during a live fire exercise (Defense Daily, April 16).
LCS-18 was first commissioned in March 2020 (Defense Daily, March 1, 2019) and then arrived at its homeport of San Diego that April and fell under the command of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One before the future LCS Mine Countermeasures Division is established on the West Coast (Defense Daily, April 26, 2019).