An unmanned U.S. Navy helicopter drone crashed into the side of the littoral combat ship Charleston after taking off from the vessel Tuesday morning.

The mishap occurred as the ship was underway in the east Pacific, according to U.S. 3rd Fleet.

No one was injured, but the 31-foot-long MQ-8B Fire Scout drone fell into the sea and was not recovered, according to 3rd Fleet. The drone was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 and was stationed aboard Charleston as part of its current mission.

The Fire Scout struck Charleston’s hull and damaged a safety net. While an assessment continues, the command said the damage appears to be limited to an area above the waterline.

Officials did not indicate whether the mishap took place during the Navy’s recent unmanned exercise off the West Coast, which aimed to showcase manned and unmanned platforms working together.

Charleston continues to operate and the mishap’s cause is being investigated, 3rd Fleet said.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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