Cause of Missile Spill Identified

Error on the part of the driver and safety observer transporting an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM on July 31 in Mountrail County, North Dakota for placement in a silo caused the missile transport vehicle to overturn, according to the newly issued findings of Air Force investigators. While attempting to navigate a sharp left turn, the driver and safety observer maneuvered the vehicle beyond the right edge of a reinforced gravel roadway and shoulder and onto an unreinforced dirt and gravel surface that was “unable to support the heavy vehicle,” which then tipped onto its right side, the accident investigation board determined. The driver and safety observer, both with the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, suffered minor injuries. The total costs associated with the incident, including damages, repair and recovery of the booster were pegged at $6.4 million.