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Sidewinder Missile Hits, Damages Tanker in Navy Atlantic Exercises

July 30, 1986|Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. — A U.S. Navy missile struck a loaded oil tanker on Tuesday, causing a small fire but no injuries, the Navy said.

The Sidewinder air-to-air missile, fired from an F-14 jet as part of Navy exercises, left a 2 1/2-foot hole in the superstructure of the Western Sun, which was cruising in the Atlantic 60 miles east of Norfolk, Lt. Cmdr. Bill Sonntag said in a statement.

The 30,000-ton Sun Oil Co. tanker, which left Marcus Hook, Pa., early Tuesday, resumed its trip to Nederland, Tex., after the fire was extinguished with the help of two Navy ships. None of the cargo was reported to have leaked. The Navy provided no more information about the tanker.

No Spills Found

A Coast Guard aircraft scanned the area for pollution but did not find any debris or spills, said Coast Guard Lt. Peter Virok.

The 86-pound missile is 9 1/2 feet long and five inches in diameter. It has a two-foot wing span and a range of about 10 nautical miles, according to "The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet."

The missile, which does not carry a warhead in training exercises, was fired by a pilot assigned to Naval Air Station Fighter Squadron VF-84 at Virginia Beach. The Navy did not identify the pilot nor would it disclose the nature of the exercises.

The Navy said it had notified ships last Thursday that the exercises would be taking place in the area from Monday through next Sunday. The Navy also said the airspace and the sea lanes in the area are designated on nautical charts as a warning area due to the number of Navy operations.

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