Navy Cruiser in San Diego Port After Drone Mishap

Two sailors were treated for minor burns after USS Chancellorsville was struck by the drone

A Navy guided missile cruiser hit by a malfunctioning drone during a training exercise has returned to Naval Base San Diego, where investigators will assess the damage and determine what went wrong, a Navy official said Sunday.

Two sailors were treated for minor burns after USS Chancellorsville was struck by the unmanned aircraft during radar testing Saturday afternoon, off Point Mugu in Southern California.

Lt. Lenaya Rotklein of the U.S. Third Fleet said the drone-- which was 13 feet long, one-foot in diameter and had a wingspan of nearly six feet-- hit the ship's left, or port, side.

About 300 crew members were aboard the ship at the time of the accident. The Navy could not say how the two sailors were injured.

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.

Chance Roth, president of the San Diego Drone User Group, uses the technology for fun but is also testing them for more real-world applications.

When he heard about the incident, he immediately wondered why the drone was so close to the ship and what failed to cause the collision.

In his experience drones that malfunction usually lose power.

“It’s usually about the fuel or the energy left,” Roth said adding that his drones are battery-operated.

Larger drones, like the ones used by the U.S. military, are powered by gas.

There are 150 people in the San Diego chapter with more than 2,000 people in the National Drone User Network.

As with any technology, Roth said there is a period of testing and failures.

“At the beginning of the whole airplane revolution planes dropped out of the sky like flies, right?! And we're kind of going through the same things right now," Roth said.

Commercial or civilian drones are much smaller than the military’s technology. They have much smaller payloads and can be flown only by line-of-sight.

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