Denmark closes shipping strait due to missile failure

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Frigate Niels Juel (archive photo)

The Danish military was forced to temporarily close a major shipping lane and nearby airspace after a missile launcher on board a ship malfunctioned.

The National Maritime Authority issued a warning for ships to avoid part of the Great Belt Fjord off the coast of Denmark on Thursday afternoon due to the risk of “missile fragments.”

A naval exercise began in the region last month and is scheduled to end on Friday.

The shipping lane was reopened on Thursday evening after about six hours.

The army added: “Until the missile launcher is neutralized, there is a risk that the missile will be launched and fly a few kilometers away.”

The missile was launched from the Niels Juel frigate, which has been part of NATO's Standing Naval Force since 2023.

The warning covered an area southwest of the town of Korsor, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) south of the Great Belt Bridge that crosses the strait.

The bridge operator said the bridge remained open to traffic.

The Ministry of Defense said that the missile contained 150 kilograms of explosives, adding that it was not armed and would not explode if it fell into the sea.

The ministry said in a later statement that the specialists “conducted a number of different tests, after which it became clear that the missile was not armed and that there was no longer a danger that the missile could be launched.”

The accident, which occurred in the Great Belt Fjord, comes at the end of a difficult week for the Danish Navy.

On Wednesday, the Defense Minister, General Fleming Lintver, was sacked over his failure to report a malfunction in weapons systems on the Danish frigate, Ever Huitveldt, in the Red Sea.

Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said he had lost confidence in Lintver, who did not inform the Ministry of Defense that the frigate's radar and missile systems malfunctioned when it was attacked by a drone controlled by Houthi militants.

The Ever Heitfeldt ship was helping protect commercial maritime traffic from Houthi attacks while launching a support campaign for the Palestinians in the wake of the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Neither the crew nor the ship were harmed during the deployment.

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