Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose fired the anti-ship missile while on exercise off Scotland, completely destroying a target barge.
A booster rocket helps launch the missile, which is 15ft (4.6m) long and about 1ft (30.5cm) in diameter, before the turbojet then powers it along at Mach 9, just under the speed of sound.
Principal warfare officer Lieutenant Ben Evans said: “The intensity and stress of conducting complex warfare training increases tenfold when you know that there is almost a quarter of a tonne of warhead on the end of the live missile you are about to fire - but so is the satisfaction increased when you successfully achieve your goal.”
HMS Montrose, which is based at Devonport Naval Base, fired the Harpoon missile during a specialist training week following its participation in Exercise Joint Warrior, a multi-national exercise off the coast of Scotland.
Weapon engineer officer Lieutenant Commander Tony Marden said: “Firing our cutting-edge missiles is not an everyday event, but ensuring the availability of the equipment required to do so is, and my team of professional engineers take great pride in having proved their mettle.”
One of the aims of the firing was to put into practice some of HMS Montrose’s pre-deployment training, while the other was to assess the missile’s performance in challenging conditions against a challenging target.
Commanding officer of HMS Montrose, Commander James Parkin, said: “Of all the times I have said ‘command approved’ in my career so far, it was this one that I enjoyed the most.
“A successful firing of our Harpoon missiles has proven that my professional team of highly trained sailors are at the top of their game, and that we are ready for any tasking that we are given.”