Doofus Of The Day #947

Today’s award goes to a hapless crewman aboard a South Korean P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

The Navy said one of its P-3CK four-engine anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft reported dropping three Harpoon missiles, a torpedo and depth charges while on a routine mission over the East Sea.

“One of the plane’s crew mistakenly touched the emergency weapons release switch at around 6:10 a.m.,” an official source said. The weapons fell into waters 30 miles east of Yangyang on the country’s northeastern coast.

“There was one fishing boat in the area but it sustained no damage,” he said.

There’s more at the link.

If the plane was near or over the fishing boat at the time, I imagine the fishermen needed a change of underwear!  I daresay the offending aircrew member did too, after getting back to base and being royally reamed out for discarding weapons that, in total, will cost well into seven figures to replace.  Not a career-enhancing move, that . . .



  1. *showing my age here* There was a Cary Grant movie named OPERATION PETTICOAT, a comedy of a military Navy submarine where one of the passengers pushed the control that fired a torpedo, that 'sunk' a truck on the edge of the shoreline. Look on captain's face was priceless.

    I'm pretty sure the captain of that ship in the above story wore a far different expression. Is keel hauling still in vogue or again' the rulz ? :^)

    Thanks for the chuckle sir – glad to hear no one was hurt.

  2. Almost as bad as <a href=">this one</a>:

    <i>The Rivers State police command said a loud blast heard in Port Harcourt earlier today was that of a missile accidentally fired from an airforce jet on routine maintenance at the Airforce mechanic hangar in Port Harcourt.

    Commissioner of Police Mohammed Indabawa told Saharareporters that the missile hit an uncompleted building three kilometers from the scene of the accidental discharge. He said no death or injuries were reported.

    Panicked residents had reported hearing a deafening explosion in Worji area of Port Harcourt around 7:30 AM.</i>

  3. "Accidentally touched"?

    I was kinda of the opinion that anything that caused weapons to fall off of airplanes, in any circumstances, should involve more than one switch or button, not physically next to each other, and at least one of them protected by some kind of cover or guard.

    Then again, P-3s are getting kinda long in the tooth, so I wouldn't be surprised if one of those switches had been duct-taped.

    I don't suppose OldNFO could clear up my understanding on that matter?

  4. It can't be quite that simple. (I'm a former P-3 aircrewman.)

    The jettison switch is a red-guarded switch, meaning that it has a plastic cover. You need to lift that guard before you can flip it on.

    Back when I was in the Navy, another crew in my squadron took off with the jettison switch turned on. Some red-guarded switches turn off when you close them, but some don't. The jettison switch was the kind that you can close the guard without it turning off. Dunno if they ever changed that.

    Anyway, the cover was closed. Nobody noticed that jettison was turned on because there's a weight-on-wheels sensor that prevents dropping weapons while you're on the ground. But once they took off, the aircraft began dropping every weapon it had.

    Fortunately, they only had dummy mines for a training exercise. Unfortunately, it still left cracks in the runway.

  5. Back in the 60s an S-2 Tracker from Quonset Point dropped a dummy torpedo ON a US submarine, requiring repair in drydock. Good aim, that, although completely accidental. One of the "toys" my father brought home for me was a sonobuoy that had been partially crushed when a taxiing Tracker jettisoned several in the path of following aircraft. That stuff happens all the time.

  6. The South Korean military is not known for it's powder puff style of discipline. I suspect that hapless crewmember (almost had to be a pilot or co-pilot) will have some very uncomfortable moments soon.

  7. So what you're saying, Flugelman, is that he may be given the opportunity to join the Nork's military?

  8. Didn't a US B-58 almost accidentally drop something on a populated area (I think it was a fuel tank and I think it was detroit) during a training/test mission because they were told to do things exactly as if it was real, which resulted in a crew member flipping a switch which was decidedly secured against being flipped, involving the use of pliers / wire cutters to accomplish this?

    I might have to dig out the article on that one unless someone remembers it better than I do.

  9. I once worked with a guy who previously had been a low-altitude bomber for the Navy. Apparently he earned the name of "Salvo" on one of his training runs, when instead of dropping his bombs, he jettisoned the entire rack. Although he proudly says the rack landed on line with the target, even if it was a couple hundred yards short.

  10. There is one red guarded switch just forward and right of the pilot's throttles. It IS possible for something (like a pub or manual to have pushed the guard up and somebody grabbing it could have hit the jettison switch accidentally.

    In this picture- The jettison button is directly above the panel with the four sets of five buttons with yellow stripes on either side of it.

    There was one case out of NAS Brunswick where an overlong Jettison switch was installed and when the red guard was safety wired down, it actually actuated the jettison. The crew was going on a torpex and dropped two practice torps through the pizza place at the end of the runway (thankfully empty that time of the morning). The pilot went on to make Captain and get a command…

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