Overturned USAF cargo truck transporting rocket booster for an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, Thursday, July 31, 2008, near Makoti, N.D. [Photo Source: AP Photo]
In North Dakota, a cargo truck carrying an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile overturned, dumping the 75,000-pound rocket booster onto the shoulder of the road. At the time of the accident, the truck and its cargo were reportedly en route from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to a launch facility 70 miles southwest, under the direct supervision of the US Air Force. In an official statement, the Air Force pinned the cause of the accident on “Inadequate gravel road training programs and the inability of 91st Missile Wing engineering personnel to accurately determine the safe load-bearing width of gravel roads along designated routes…”
According to a spokesperson for the USAF, standard procedure for transporting heavy cargo via unsteady surfaces [such as loose gravel] dictates that the cargo vehicle must remain in the center of the road, presumably to maintain even weight distribution. The USAF engineers transporting the Minuteman III erred when they prepared to turn left, swinging the loaded truck beyond the edge of the roadway onto the right hand shoulder.
No injuries were suffered by any of the parties involved and fortunately, since the missile was inactive and North Dakota is populated by approximately 300 people, no threat of harm was posed to the public either. The accident did require more than $5.6 million to properly recover, however, and although the Air Force could not confirm whether any disciplinary action had been taken, the operators of the truck could face USAF sanctioning.
[News Source: BismarkTribune.com]