April 27, 2021 – An unmanned helicopter crashed into the side of USS Charleston (LCS 18) after taking off from the ship around 3:40 p.m., April 26.
No one was injured, and the Littoral Combat Ship continued to safely operate after the incident involving the MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV).
The Fire Scout – 31.7 feet long and nearly 10 feet tall – fell into the sea and was not recovered. The mishap damaged a safety net on the ship and struck the hull. Damage to the ship is being assessed, but appears limited to an area above the waterline. Charleston continues operations in the Western Pacific.
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 its current mission.