I Survived A Missile Fire - A True Life Story

Surviving Anti-Ship Missile Firing

This is a true life story in which I was standing and taking a bath, just two meters behind a huge anti-ship missile being fired by my ship, with just half inch steel plate between me and the intense fire eminating from the huge anti-ship missile exhaust, when everyone else was at least 50 to 70 meters away from the missile being launched. In this short true life story, which I am going to narrate now, which had happened when I was posted in a Frigate class ship sometime back in the year 2000.

Those days I was flying a Seaking helicopter with which we had embarked this ship you can see in the picture above, for a month along sailing. From the time I had my dinner at 8:30 pm the previous night, I had already flown three missions of 4:00 hours duration each, in my Seaking helicopter. The first flight was from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am. This was followed by another flight of four hours from 4:00 am to 7:00 am. The third flight was from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

All 3 missions were flown over the sea, about 100 miles away from the ship and about 150 miles away from the nearest land. I landed back from the last mission and I was so tired that within 10 minutes, I hit my bed and slept off forgetting even to have lunch. I woke up from my sleep, hearing some sound.

I Took A Bath Standing 5 Feet Behind A Live Missile Fire

But, I couldn't make out what it was. I looked at my watch and my 12 hour wrist watch indicated 5:30. Inside a ship there are no windows to look outside and make out if it is day or night. We live inside a warship seeing only electric lights. I assumed that must be morning 5:30 am and I might have heard the Hands call piped on the ship's main broadcast system speaker fitted inside my cabin. Immediately, I got up, put on my dressing gown, took my bathing soap, towel etc., and whet to the toilet. Somehow, halfway to the toilet, I felt that I don't need to go to the toilet.

So, I entered the bathroom instead, brushed my teeth and waited for fresh water to come at 5:45 am. Even after waiting 5 minutes past 5:45 am, no water came in the bathroom shower. I was a bit puzzle now. The 200 liter water drum in the bathroom, had about 50 liters of water down its bottom. I had no choice. So I started taking bath in that dirty water using a plastic mug.

I had applied soap all over my head and body. And, that is when there was a huge explosion like sound and whole ship jolted heavily. All the tube lights in the bathroom fell down due to the vibrations and there was complete darkness inside the bathroom.My ears pained, because of the loud sound I heard. I think I went deaf and blind and stood completely frozen in the bathroom, for a few seconds. I was very sure something really bad has happened to the ship.

Probably, some torpedo has come and hit the ship. Or maybe our ship has gone and collided with another ship. Still there was no announcement coming from the ship's broadcast system. Either there is no emergency or I have gone blind and deaf and I can't see anything or hear any announcement. I came out of my frozen state. In less than 30 seconds, I finished my bath and ran out of the bathroom. Once again I found nobody outside.

I Did Not Know I Survived A Missile Fire

I felt I am walking in my sleep. I came back to my cabin. I felt a little odd because I did not meet anyone in the alleyway or bathroom, nor was I hearing any announcements from the ship's broadcast system from the time I have woken up. On any normal day, I should have heard at least 4 or 5 announcements on the ship's broadcast system from 5:30 am till 6:00 am.

I had a feeling that something was really wrong, but I could not figure out what it is. Is everyone on the ship still sleeping or are they all dead? Anyway, I got ready, wore my flying overalls and went down the ladder to the Officer's Mess Wardroom, one deck below my cabin, to have a tea. Amazingly, there was no tea available there and I could not find anyone in the Wardroom either. Not even a single steward was there.

From the Wardroom, I walked towards the helicopter hanger. Once again I met nobody enroute. As I entered the Helicopter Hanger, I saw all my flight crew sitting inside the helicopter hanger. In one voice they all asked me, "Sir, Shelter Station was announced at 5: 25 pm for firing the ship's missile. We all have been here since then. Where were you?" I stood there for a while unable to answer the question. I had slept off at about 1:30 pm and woke up at 5:30 pm.

I had slept only 4 hours and had woken up in the evening probably hearing the shelter station announcement in the broadcast system speaker. Since my 12 hour wrist watch could not tell me if it was morning or evening 5:30, I imagined it to be morning 5:30 am. And not only that, inside the ship, one can’t make out if it is day or night outside because there are no windows. So, imagining it to be early morning, I went and brushed my teeth and took a bath.

When Ships Crew Ran To Safety, I took A Bath Behind A Firing Missile

Shelter station is announced only when the ship is firing one of its four huge 75 kilometer range anti-ship missiles mounted in the front section, two on either side of the ship. People in the ship's bridge like the Captain of the ship, Navigating Officer and some sailors, have no choice but to stay there to navigate the ship and ensure the missile firing is done properly. The Gunnery Officer and some other officers take shelter inside the operations room which is deep inside the ship, from where the fire control radar and firing button are available.

For the flight crew, the shelter station is in the area at the rear end of the ship, inside the two helicopter hangers. The engineers take shelter inside the engine room compartments which are a half a dozen floors below. The shelter stations are supposed to protect the crew of the ship, just in case the missile fails to launch and explodes on the ship itself.

The officer’s bathroom is the first compartment just behind the two starboard missiles mounted one on top of the other. There is only a small half inch thick steel plate between the missile and any person standing in the bathroom. The missile has a rocket engine which spew out fire and exhaust gases at super high temperature and pressure, which actually melt the half inch thick steel plate even during normal missile launch.

I Survived A Live Missile Fired 5 Feet From Me

And if the missile does not take off from the missile housing tube, then after about three seconds, the missile will explode right there, due to this intense heat detonating the warhead of some 150 kg in the missile. And that would have caused a fire on the ship in the front section where the missile is and the other missile below it would have also exploded. This explosion will trigger the two missiles in the left hand side of the ship just five meters away also to explode. The damaged ship would sink in probably a few minutes.

If any of these were to become a reality and the missile had failed to take off, then I would have been vaporized by the intense heat of the missile which would have melted the half inch thick steel plate and then burning me alive or by the exploding missiles a few seconds later. It was God's grace that the missile got launched the way it was designed to launch, without any problems and I survived to write this true life story.

A True Life Story


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