A 250-foot Indian merchant ship steamed toward port for repairs Tuesday after being accidentally hit by a supersonic "Harpoon" missile fired from a U.S. Navy jet, killing one crewman, authorities said.
The body of the merchant seaman was flown by a Navy helicopter to Wilcox Memorial Hospital on the island of Kauai, nursing supervisor Lillian Teshima said.The Indian vessel Jagvivek, bound for Singapore with an unknown cargo, was in the Navy's Pacific Missile Range 200 miles northwest of Honolulu, even though the area was closed to commercial shipping because of military operations, the Navy said.
Navy authorities are investigating the incident.
In New Delhi, the Indian government declined comment.
The FA-18 Hornet attack fighter from the aircraft carrier USS Constellation launched the 12-foot-long, 1,000-pound, unarmed missile during a training mission toward a target hulk ship many miles out to sea, the Navy said.
"Unfortunately the exercise missile was fired close enough to the path of the merchant vessel for the missile's seeker to guide on it instead of the original target," the Navy said in a statement.
The impact of the non-explosive missile into the ship's structure above the main deck killed the crewman and collapsed part of the structure, the Navy said.
Two Navy ships were sent to assist the Jagvivek and a Navy doctor and a medical corpsman went aboard. They pronounced the crewman dead at the scene, the Navy said.
Teshima did not disclose the type of injuries the man had suffered. His name was not released.
The Constellation and seven other ships in its battle group were conducting training exercises en route to a Western Pacific deployment, the Navy said.