US Navy aircraft with 11 on board crashes in the Philippine Sea
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US Navy aircraft with 11 on board crashes in the Philippine Sea

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.

SEE ALSO: At least 3 injured, 7 missing after US Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan 

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.

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The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan steams the Philippine Sea during Annual Exercise 2017, joint military training between the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, in this handout photo taken November 20, 2017. Source: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/US Navy/Handout via Reuters

SEE ALSO: US Navy destroyer conducts operation at South China Sea

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.