U.S. Navy Cargo Plane Goes Down off Okinawa

File image courtesy USN

By The Maritime Executive 11-22-2017 09:25:35

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the U.S. Navy are searching for three missing sailors from a Navy C-2A Greyhound transport plane that went down about 500 nm off Okinawa on Wednesday. 

"At approximately 2:45 p.m. Japan Standard Time, Nov. 22, 2017, the C2-A aircraft with 11 crew and passengers onboard crashed into the ocean approximately 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa. The aircraft was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76),” the Navy said in a statement. “Reagan is operating in the Philippine Sea as part of an exercise with JMSDF.”

Eight of the servicemembers aboard were rescued at 3:20 PM, and they are safely aboard the Reagan. The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification, and surface and airborne assets continue to search for the remaining sailors. "Our entire focus is on finding all of our sailors," Navy Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton said. "US and Japanese ships and aircraft are searching the area of the crash, and we will be relentless in our efforts."

An investigation into the cause of the crash is expected to begin shortly. Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera told media that the U.S. military suspects that engine trouble may have been a factor. 

The twin-engine Grumman C-2A Greyhound cargo aircraft design dates back to the mid-1960s, and its primary mission is to fly up to 10,000 pounds of goods at a time onto the decks of the Navy's carriers. The original fleet was replaced with new models in 1987-1990, and a service life extension will allow the current airframes to continue service until 2027. The Navy has selected the V-22 Osprey to replace the aging C-2A fleet, and deliveries will begin in 2020.