The US military is engaged in a significant retrieval operation following the crash of a US Army MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in the Mediterranean Sea.
The incident, which occurred on November 10, involved five servicemen from the US Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment engaged in routine flight training.
The US Department of Defense confirmed the identification of the soldiers lost in the crash by November 13, namely:
1 | Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38 of Clarksville, Tennessee
2 | Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, of Sacramento, California
3 | Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, of Gorham, New Hampshire
4 | Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Arizona
5 | Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minnesota.
Notably, the agency found no indications of enemy or hostile actions associated with the accident.
In response to this tragic event, the US Navy has taken decisive steps to recover the downed MH-60 Black Hawk
Employing a multi-purpose support ship contracted for the task, the Navy has initiated a retrieval operation with a comprehensive plan.
Search Operation Details
The US Navy’s contracted vessel, the NG Worker recovery vessel, set sail from Augusta Bay, Sicily, equipped with a Supervisor of Salvage and Diving team.
The NG Worker is a 288-foot (87.7-meter) offshore supply vessel armed with advanced underwater positioning and survey technologies.
Upon arrival at the crash site, the team will deploy sophisticated equipment for the search and retrieval process.
This includes the use of a shallow water intermediate search system (SWISS), a side-scan sonar, and a towed pinger locator.
SWISS, alongside the locator, aims to pinpoint the approximate location of the downed MH-60 Black Hawk, enhancing search efficiency.
Moreover, the team will leverage additional sensors to detect the pinger frequency integrated into the aircraft.
Once the MH-60 Black Hawk is located, the Navy plans to employ a Deep Drone remote-operated submersible vehicle in the lifting phase of the operation.
The Deep Drone, weighing 4,100 pounds (1,860 kilograms), was specifically developed to address salvage requirements in mid-water up to a maximum depth of 8,000 feet (2.4 kilometers/1.5 miles).
The recent crash in the Mediterranean Sea adds to a series of incidents involving the MH-60 Black Hawk in recent years.
These crashes have occurred during diverse operational activities, emphasizing the need for thorough investigations to pinpoint factors contributing to each event.
These examinations help enhance safety protocols and mitigate risks associated with the MH-60 Black Hawk, ensuring the continued reliability of this crucial military aircraft.
Update on Separate Incident in Japan
In a separate but equally distressing incident, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III addressed a crash that occurred on November 5 off Yakushima Island in Japan.
The accident involved a US Air Force CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft carrying eight personnel in transit between the Iwakuni US base and the Kadena base in Okinawa.
The CV-22 was commissioned at the US Yokota air base in Tokyo.
Secretary Austin expressed condolences, stating:
“The entire Department of Defense mourns alongside the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives today in the service of their country.”
He emphasized an ongoing investigation into the tragic incident and pledged a rigorous and thorough inquiry.
Additionally, Secretary Austin extended gratitude to Japan’s Coast Guard, Self-Defense forces, and local communities, including fishermen, for their dedicated search and rescue efforts.
The U.S. Air Force said on Monday that the bodies of five crew members had been found alongside the wreckage of a CV-22 Osprey that went down during a routine training exercise last week in Japan.https://t.co/yqRJhhckRn
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 4, 2023
Osprey’s Troubled History
The tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft has a troubled history marred by a series of fatal crashes that have raised significant safety concerns over the years.
These incidents include the August crash in northern Australia, resulting in the tragic loss of three US Marines out of the 23 personnel on board.
The August crash occurred during a military exercise on Melville Island, north of Darwin, wherein eight other US Marines required hospital treatment, with one in intensive care.
Notably, the troubled history extends to previous incidents, such as the loss of four Marines in Norway last year during NATO training exercises involving an MV-22B Osprey aircraft.
In 2017, three Marines lost their lives when an Osprey crashed after colliding with the back of a transport ship during an attempted sea landing off Australia’s north coast.
The troubled legacy of the Osprey also includes the devastating loss of 19 Marines in 2000 when their aircraft crashed during drills in Arizona.
These repeated incidents have underscored ongoing concerns regarding the safety and reliability of the Osprey aircraft.
Nevertheless, the US military remains committed to comprehensive investigations, emphasizing support for the affected families and gratitude for the collaborative efforts in these challenging times.
The recovery efforts in the Mediterranean Sea serve as a testament to the dedication and advanced capabilities of the US Navy in executing complex search and retrieval missions, highlighting their commitment to serving the nation and honoring those who serve.
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