A U.S. Navy aircraft crashed in the Philippine Sea on Wednesday with 11 crew and passengers on board. Eight service members were rescued, U.S. Navy officials said. A search and rescue operation is underway to find the other three personnel.
“I’d like everyone to take a moment and keep some of our Navy family, friends and loved ones in their thoughts and prayers,” Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said in a video statement. “We heard just a little while ago that a C-2 going out to the Reagan crashed in the ocean. Eleven people on board, eight have been rescued so far. Full search mission is underway. The Japanese Navy is helping us with many, many assets but we should keep our fellow Navy family people in our thoughts and prayers.”
The C2-A aircraft crashed into the ocean about 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa. Officials said the plane was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to the USS Ronald Reagan, which is operating in the Philippine Sea as part of an exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The C2-A is assigned to the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Three Zero, Detachment Five, and is forward deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan. The squadron’s mission includes “the transport of high-priority cargo, mail, duty passengers and Distinguished Visitors between USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and shore bases throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia theaters,” U.S. Navy officials said in a press release.
“Our entire focus is on finding all of our Sailors,” said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, commander of Task Force 70. “U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft are searching the area of the crash, and we will be relentless in our efforts.”
The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification and the U.S. Navy said the incident will be investigated. A family assistance center is online at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Families who live off base in Japan can call 0468-16-1728. Families living in the United States can call +81-468-16-1728 and families who live on base can call 243-1728 for information.
The cause of the crash is not known.
The eight rescued personnel were transferred to the USS Ronald Reagan for medical evaluation and U.S. Navy officials said they “are in good condition at this time.” The USS Ronald Reagan is a Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered supercarrier named after former President Ronald Reagan.
This is the 22nd non-combat military aviation crash this year, according to Fox News.
On Monday, a T-38 Talon crashed in Texas, just northwest of Laughlin Air Force Base, killing one pilot and injuring another. U.S. Air Force officials said they were grounding all flights at the base.
“Our community has suffered the irreplaceable loss of one of our pilots,” Col. Charlie Velino, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, said in a press release. “The immediate concern is to provide support and love to his family, friends and colleagues. Our Airmen and their families are incredibly important to us, and our top priority. For now, we will focus inward to make sure that our base community rallies around those who are suffering and need our support.”
“During this Thanksgiving season, there is value in remembering the debt that we all owe to the brave men and women who serve in the military,” said Velino. “The pilots who train at this base are truly the tip of the spear in securing our national defense, and we are grateful for their choice to serve in that pivotal capacity.”
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson send her condolences after the deadly crash in Texas. “I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of one of our Airmen. I extend my heartfelt condolences to family, friends and all of our Airmen at Laughlin AFB,” she said in a statement on Twitter.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the crash on Thursday morning before heading to his Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
“The @USNavy is conducting search and rescue following aircraft crash. We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved,” Trump wrote on his Twitter page.
Senator John McCain, who was a Navy pilot during Vietnam before crashing and being captured and held as a prisoner of war for five years, also sent a message on Twitter, saying the Senate Armed Services Committee would also look into the cause of the crash.