Sunday, August 06, 2017

U.S. Calls Off Search for Marines After Osprey Plunges Into Sea: Officials say 23 people were rescued after the tilt-rotor aircraft crashed off Australia’s east coast, but three remain missing

The Wall Street Journal
By Mike Cherney and  Gordon Lubold
Updated Aug. 6, 2017 5:05 a.m. ET

SYDNEY—The U.S. military called off a search-and-rescue mission for three Marines missing after their Osprey aircraft went down in waters off Australia’s east coast, military officials said.

The search was called off about 3 a.m. local time Sunday, with operations shifting to a recovery effort, according to a statement from the Third Marine Expeditionary Force. The families of the three missing service members have been notified.

The MV-22 Osprey was carrying 26 military personnel when it went down about 4 p.m. Saturday. The tilt-rotor aircraft was assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and it had launched off the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, Marine officials said. The aircraft was conducting scheduled operations when it crashed into the water, officials said.

The Bonhomme Richard’s small boats and aircraft responded immediately, according to Marine officials, and 23 people were rescued.

The recovery and salvage operation could take months, according to the military statement, and the circumstances of the incident are being investigated.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Saturday she had briefed U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the matter and offered Australia’s assistance. “Our thoughts are with the crew and families affected,” she said.

An Australian navy survey ship, the HMAS Melville, was heading to the search area from its northeast Australian port of Cairns to assist the U.S.-led salvage effort, Ms. Payne said Sunday. An Australian navy diving team was also preparing for deployment.

U.S. President Donald Trump was also briefed on the situation, White House officials said.

After the crash, Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera made a request for the U.S. military to stop flying Ospreys—which are stationed at a U.S. military base in Japan’s southern island prefecture of Okinawa—in the country.

“We’re not getting much clear information and I think there are voices of concern domestically in Japan so we will ask them to refrain” from flying the aircraft in Japan for now, Mr. Onodera said Sunday.

The latest incident follows an accident July 10 in which a KC-130 refueler prop plane reportedly experienced a problem midflight and went down in Mississippi, killing 15 Marines and one sailor.

The MV-22 Osprey has a history of mishaps since its early stages of development, associated with more than 30 deaths over the years.

In January, an MV-22 Osprey experienced what is known as a “hard landing” during a raid in Yemen, seriously injuring one service member. The plane only experienced minor damage, but due to the sensitive nature of the risky operation, the plane was destroyed, a loss of about $170 million.

Before that, the Osprey experienced another mishap in December 2016 when an MV-22B had another hard landing in shallow water off the coastline of Okinawa, Japan.

Overall, the Marine Corps has had eight “Class A” flight mishaps over the course of 190,000 flight hours as of July 31 for fiscal 2017 for all aircraft. A Class A mishap is defined by the loss of life, damage of $1 million or more or the total loss of an aircraft.

Since the Osprey was fielded in the Marine Corps in 2007, its safety record and the public perception of its capabilities have improved.

Corps officials said the Osprey has a “slightly better Class-A” mishap rate than other planes, like the F-18A-C Hornet jet fighter and CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter.

—Chieko Tsuneoka contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here ➤

1 comment:

  1. As a retired Veteran (Air Force). 1984 to 2004.
    My only concern is for the Marines that we lost today.
    Their families are suffering tonight.
    Take a moment and think about those Marines and the families.