THE US military on Wednesday said an aircraft carrying 11 people on board has crashed in the Philippine sea while en route to an aircraft carrier, in the latest accident involving its armed forces in Asia.
Without mentioning the fate of those on board, the US 7th Fleet website their identities are “being withheld pending next of kin notification”, Channel News Asia reported.
“Personal recovery is underway and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff,” it said.
The statement added that the USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations and that the cause of the crash is not yet known.
A @USNavy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa while en-route to the Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). #USSRonaldReagan is conducting search and rescue operations. https://t.co/ZJqpxyYqcR
— 7th Fleet (@US7thFleet) November 22, 2017
The US Seventh Fleet operates in the largest of the US Navy’s numbered fleets. It oversees about 70-80 ships and submarines at any given time in the region. The US military also has a heavy presence in the region, especially in Japan and South Korea where tens of thousands of its troops and hardware are stationed.
Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera told reporters the US Navy had informed him that the crash in the Philippine Sea may have been a result of engine trouble.
The propeller-powered transport plane, a C-2 Greyhound, carries personnel, mail and other cargo from mainland bases to carriers operating at sea.
The aircraft has been in operation for more than five decades and is due to be replaced by the long-range tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft.
Earlier this week the US Navy introduced new measures aimed at avoiding a repeat of two deadly crashes in the Asia Pacific region involving its warships and commercial vessels following a review of its practices.
On Monday, the Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer’s comments come after a US guided-missile destroyer was slightly damaged at the weekend when a Japanese tug drifted into it during a towing exercise off central Japan, the latest incident in the Pacific this year involving ships from the fleet.
The US Navy announced a series of reforms this month aimed at restoring basic naval skills and alertness at sea after a review of deadly collisions in the Asia-Pacific region showed sailors were under-trained and over-worked.
Two of the incidents – collisions with commercial vessels involving guided-missile destroyers, the Fitzgerald in June off Japan and then the John S. McCain in August as it approached Singapore – have left a total of 17 sailors dead.
The crashes were caused by preventable errors by the sailors on board the ships, Navy investigations showed.