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Navy: Human error partly to blame for drone crash

SAN DIEGO – Human error and a malfunctioning control system are to blame for a November drone accident off the coast of Southern California that injured two sailors and caused $30 million in damage to a warship, the Navy said in a newly unclassified report.

U-T San Diego reported Friday that the Navy report recommends administrative action against the warship’s then-skipper, Capt. Andrew Hesser, and three crew members for not doing enough to stop the drone from crashing into the San Diego-based Chancellorsville. The newspaper obtained a redacted copy of the report through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The drone breached the warship’s hull. The sailors suffered minor injuries.

The report says the control tower at Point Mugu naval base was also slow to react.

“This unfortunate accident serves as a reminder of the hazards regularly faced by sailors conducting realistic at-sea training,” Hesser said in a statement. “The crew’s heroic, rapid response in the wake of the drone strike limited damage to the ship and prevented serious injury or loss of life.”

Lt. Rick Chernitzer, a Navy spokesman, said administrative action was taken against Hesser and the three crew members, but he added that he could not give details, citing privacy laws.

Hesser completed his tour of duty and did not lose his command as a result of the action, Chernitzer said.

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