Navy Divers Show Details of Challenging Plane Salvage Project off Oahu

Courtesy USN

Published Nov 30, 2023 7:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy has released underwater footage from the wreck site of a maritime patrol plane that overshot the runway at the Marine Corps airfield at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii last week. Luckily, the video appears to show only slight damage to the reef structure on the bottom. 

At about 1400 hours on Nov. 20, a P-8 Poseidon attempted to land on the main runway at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. It failed to stop before the end of the pavement and skidded into the water, according to a Marine Corps spokesperson. The plane came to rest in shallow water just offshore. 

Multiple federal and local first response agencies attended the scene. All nine crewmembers were able to make it to shore, and no injuries were reported. The Navy deployed three layers of boom around the plane to prevent any potential fuel spill from escaping into the bay; this proved unnecessary. The aircraft has now been fully defuelled, without any reported mishap or leakage. 

Now that its fuel has been pumped off, the plane is making contact with the bottom at only two points, the Navy said this week. It is secured to mooring points in order to prevent it from drifting off.

The video suggests that the plane is essentially intact, including its landing gear and underbelly. The Navy is working on a salvage plan, and is prioritizing safety and environmental protection, it said in a statement. An investigation into the cause of the accident is under way, with an aim to prevent similar incidents in the future. 

According to local media, two different salvage options are under consideration. The first would be picking it with a large crane and placing it on shore. The other would be to use roller bags to support it and then roll it back up onto the runway.