NATION : Accidental Shelling Kills Officer

From Times wire services

An officer was killed and a sailor was injured when a Navy vessel was accidentally shelled by another ship during gunnery exercises in the Atlantic 80 miles off the Virginia coast.

Shells from the amphibious cargo ship El Paso struck the flight deck and bridge of the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Lt. Cmdr. Timothy E. Kirtley, 32, of Kirkwood, Mo., was killed and Petty Officer 1st Class David K. Rawls, hometown not available, was wounded, the Navy said.

"It was either the projectiles or the shrapnel that struck the officer and seriously injured the sailor," Navy spokesman Lt. Comdr. John Lloyd said.

The El Paso was testing its Phalanx defense system at the time of the accident. The Phalanx guns are designed to throw up a screen of flying lead to knock down incoming missiles.

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