§ Mr. Redmond
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which area of the English channel was closed to traffic on 5 and 6 April due to a Sea Wolf missile failing to explode during a Royal Navy exercise.
§ Mr. Hanley
On 5 April, HMS Brazen was conducting routine training off Portland Bill, Dorset, which involved firing Sea Wolf missiles. Due to a minor technical malfunction, one missile veered off its intended course and fell into the sea. As a purely precautionary measure, the Portland naval authorities alerted HM Coastguard. A safety broadcast, advising shipping to avoid a 2–mile radius around the point where the missile fell into the sea, was issued immediately. Once it became clear that there was no risk to traffic in the area, HM Coastguard was advised and the safety broadcast was cancelled. The Sea Wolf is a fragile missile which travels at high speed and would almost certainly have disintegrated on impact with the sea.