Denmark closes shipping strait and airspace over risk missile will 'fire at random' after warship malfunction

4 April 2024, 17:32

The missile could be fired from being Niels Juel
The missile could be fired from being Niels Juel. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A faulty missile launcher on a Danish navy ship has triggered the closure of airspace and shipping lanes near a major shipping strait.

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The navy warned that a missile could be fired from Niels Juel, a naval frigate, at random as a result of the failed launcher.

Ships have been stopped from sailing through the Great Belt strait - one of the world's busiest sea lanes and the main maritime access to the Baltic Sea - due to the risk of "falling missile fragments".

A statement from the Danish military said the issue occurred "during a mandatory test where the missile launcher is activated and cannot be deactivated".

"Until the missile launcher is deactivated, there is a risk that the missile can fire and fly a few kilometres away," the military said.

Authorities said the missile itself had not been activated so there is “no danger” of it blowing up.

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The Great Belt Bridge
The Great Belt Bridge. Picture: Getty

The area at risk is southeast of the Great Belt Bridge, which crosses the strait and connects the islands of Zealand and Funen.

Specialists are understood to be on their way to try to detonate the missile but if they are unable to it may be ejected instead.

There is no risk of the missile hitting the bridge, the navy said.

In the meantime, ships in the strait have been told to drop anchor until they are given the green light.

"The danger area is estimated to be up to 5-7 km from Naval Station Korsør at a height of approximately 1,000 metres above the water in a southern direction and not in the direction of the Great Belt Bridge," authorities said.

"The police and the Danish Maritime Authority are informed, and ships in the direction of the danger zone are notified and asked to wait for the problem to be resolved.

"The airspace in the area is also closed."

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