Belgian Warship Sidelined From Red Sea Mission Due to a Stuck Missile

Belgian frigate
Louise-Marie launches a Harpoon anti-ship missile (file image courtesy Belgian Navy)

Published Apr 15, 2024 2:44 PM by The Maritime Executive


In the latest in a string of challenges for European air-defense mission in the Red Sea, the Belgian navy has had to suspend the deployment of the frigate Louise-Marie for an "indefinite period" because an antiaircraft missile got stuck in one of the warship's launch tubes, according to a Belgian defense news outlet. Belgium's defense department has confirmed that the warship has been sidelined, but declined to comment on the details, citing operational security. 

Louise-Marie is currently operating in the Mediterranean in preparation for a mission with Operation Aspides, the EU-led component of the Red Sea policing mission. According to naval news site Marineschepen.nl, the frigate's crew were conducting air-defense drills last week (with the country's top defense official on board) when the ship had a mishap. One of its RIM-7 short range antiaircraft missiles failed to launch and got stuck in its tube. Backup air-defense systems also would have failed to take down the incoming threat, according to the outlet. 

"The commander and the general staff have decided to extend the frigate's training period as a result of previous training and technical tests that are not achieving the full intended result," Belgium's defense department told Marineschepen. 

Just last month, Danish frigate Iver Huitfeldt appeared to cut short her mission in the Red Sea and return to base after her commander reported a weapons-system failure in the middle of a Houthi attack, apparently because of a known software issue in the interface between its fire-control radar and its combat management system. Huitfeldt's crew used the deck cannon to shoot down incoming drones using proximity-fuzed shells - but half the shells blew up right after exiting the muzzle, an apparent failure of the fuze, the commander reported. Denmark's top military officer was relieved of command after the defense minister learned of the problem from the media. 

The month before, the German frigate Hessen misidentified and attempted to shoot down an American MQ-9 surveillance drone over the Red Sea. Hessen launched two sophisticated SM-2 air defense missiles and missed twice, and the drone survived.