US Navy uses 40,000lb explosive to test warship in 'Full Ship Shock Trial'

Might this test have caused the ship irreparable damage?

I thought ships were designed to survive certain events like this, but not go through them unnecessarily.

Every new class of ship is required to go through this testing. It has been done many times before and is designed to a very specific level to obtain very specific information and achieve very specific results.

When I was stationed on a WMEC out of Kodiak the Navy visited for a military readiness audit. To start off the damage control drill the Navy threw an explosive off the ship into the water to simulate a torpedo hitting.

The shock of the explosion was about like getting rammed by a tug, nothing extraordinary but was enough to knock the generator off-line and blackout the ship. Also the breaker panel in the wheel house caught fire.

We did not get to paint the big “E” onto the ship.


According my navy knowledge the best way to stop an attacking enemy ship is exploding a mine below the ship. It requires some skill, i.e. the mine must be positioned below the enemy ship, etc. Bombing the enemy from air is also possible but is less effective. Explosions beside is useless.

The same procedure was used to test the resilience of systems in the British Royal Navy. HMS Blackpool, a Whitby class frigate, was tested before commissioning and before she was scrapped. I think the explosives were placed in a ring around the ship.

This has been planned for literally years. The placement of the charges is such the force of the explosion hits the ship in a prescribed manner. They aren’t just thrown in the water. The events are extensively modelled and they have a pretty good idea what is going to happen before it happens.

The blast looks impressive on YouTube, but it’s a fraction of what would be experienced with an actual weapon hit. Helpful hit - if you see the plume of water beside your ship, it’s not going INTO your ship.

While there is some damage to the ship, it is not irreparable. The shock trial on CVN 71 was almost 35 years ago and she’s still doing her thing.

Observe the effect of a Mk48 torpedo detonation under my old ship, the former HMAS TORRENS fired by HMAS FARNCOMBE, a COLLINS Class submarine. Modern torpedoes are designed to detonate some distance below the middle of the ship causing a series of upward blasts (observable in the video) which break the ship in half.

The first shock wave cleared the soot from her funnel as well.

The torpedo had to detect and attack the ship ie it was pretty much left to its own devices rather than guided from the sub by wire to the locality. It’s harder for the torpedo to detect a silent, stationary ship than a moving target and so it had to use its various passive and active search modes and then go into an attack profile.

If one of these is aimed at you, it’s all over.