Victoria, Canada: Navy probes firing of live ammunition : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Mar 08, 21:52 est

Navy probes firing of live ammunition

VICTORIA (CP) - Embarrassed Canadian Navy officials launched an investigation Wednesday to probe reports that live ammunition may have been fired from a Canadian warship docked near Victoria.

A sailor on board the HMCS Huron reported hearing a bang and seeing a flash at the end of the ship's anti-missile machine gun while the weapon was undergoing routine maintenance Tuesday at CFB Esquimalt.

It's the second military misfire by the Canadian Navy in the area in recent years.

Commodore Ken McMillan, commander of the Pacific Fleet, said military police and a board of inquiry from National Defence headquarters in Ottawa will attempt to determine what happened in the most recent incident.

''The safety man that was up there had indicated he heard a bang and he saw something that looked like a flash at the end of the gun,'' said McMillan. ''The question was, did anybody else hear it?''

Luckily there were no reports of anybody being hurt when the 20-millimetre, cigar-sized bullet was fired into the open ocean at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, he said.

McMillan said the navy is concerned and upset about the possible misfire.

''An unintentional discharge of any weapon, no matter whether it's a rifle or a major system, that is a serious event,'' he said.

''People take it very seriously. When an accident happens, of course, we're not pleased. We don't like it.''

Thousands of people live near CFB Esquimalt, home of the Pacific Fleet.

In August 1996, the Navy accidentally launched a 20-kilogram, 1.5-metre long chaff missile from HMCS Regina into the neighbouring community of View Royal.

The missile travelled almost three kilometres before crashing through a garage roof behind Pete's Tent and Awning, located on the main street in View Royal.

There were no injuries, but the missile, which was not loaded with explosives, embedded itself into the ground after hitting the garage.

Shortly after the missile accident, Pete Bishop painted a bull's-eye onto the side wall of his business and put up a poster declaring Pete's Tent and Awning a missile free zone.

A Navy inquiry determined human error caused the accidental firing.

''There were a lot of lessons learned from that particular incident,'' McMillan said Wednesday.

''We have hoisted in those lessons and we have moved forward. There is the policy that no live rounds are in any of our weapons systems while we are in harbour.''

Lt-Cmdr. Marcel Losier, a combat systems engineer, said the weapon involved in the incident Tuesday is part of the ship's close-in defence system and is used as a last resort to smash incoming missiles.

''It is essentially a machine-gun of six barrels that fires at a very high rate of fire. It is a Gatling gun,'' he said. The weapon can fire up to 3,000 rounds a minute and has a maximum kill range of 460 metres, Losier said.

In another military misfiring incident two years ago, hikers on the world-renowned West Coast trail were forced to duck for cover as American naval vessels fired 50 calibre rounds into a wooded area near the popular hiking spot.

Following that incident, measures were taken to ensure American and Canadian naval ships test their weapons far away from areas frequented by the public.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 09, 2000


Carl, now that you've posted this article...

I can tell you that there was a similar incident that occurred at a Texan Army base when weapons discharged due to "Y2k problems". As Paul Harvey ("The Rest of the Story" news host on ABC radio) tells it, a Y2k glitch occurred when military base personnel were awakened when an automated target-practice gunnery system began firing out of control on its own.

I personally didn't hear the broadcast, but when a friend of mine heard the report on Mr Harvey's program, she phoned me immediately.

I searched online for a transcript of the program but unfortunately, Harvey's host - ABC Radio, doesn't maintain archives for his programs yet, although they plan to do so in the future. A search of Texan newspapers for the month of January also turned up nothing.

Even though I can't verify this story at the moment, maybe it will add a wee bit of probability to your report.

-- Lee Maloney (, March 10, 2000.

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