A US Navy aircraft with 11 people aboard has crashed into the Philippine Sea while en route to an aircraft carrier, the US said Wednesday, the latest accident to hit its armed forces in East Asia.
“A United States Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa,” a statement from the Navy said.
“Personnel recovery is under way and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff.
“The aircraft was en route to the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea.
“USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations. The cause of the crash is not known at this time.”
The US embassy in Manila did not say if there were casualties from the crash.
But US Embassy Press Secretary Molly Koscina said the names of the crew and passengers were being withheld pending notification of their next of kin.
The US military has a heavy presence in the western Pacific, with tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of pieces of hardware stationed in Japan and South Korea.
The USS Ronald Reagan last week was one of three American aircraft carriers that held rare joint drills in the region, joined separately by Japanese navy and South Korean warships over the weekend.
The drills come as tensions persist between Washington and North Korea over its missile and nuclear program.
US military vessels have been involved in a number of accidents in recent months in East Asia.
The USS John S. McCain collided with a tanker off Singapore in August, killing 10 sailors and injuring five others.
Two months earlier in June, the USS Fitzgerald and a cargo ship smashed into each other off Japan, leaving seven sailors dead.
There were also two more, lesser-known incidents. In January USS Antietam ran aground near its base in Japan, and in May, USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel.
Meanwhile, search and rescue operations recovered eight personnel following a C2-A Greyhound aircraft crash southeast of Okinawa at approximately 3:23 p.m. today, according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet.
Molly Koscina, the press secretary of the US Embassy in Manila, said all personnel were transferred to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for medical evaluation and are in good condition at this time.
Search and rescue efforts for three personnel continue with U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships and aircraft on scene.
The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification.
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). Reagan is operating in the Philippine Sea as part of an exercise with JMSDF.
The C2-A is assigned to the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Three Zero, Detachment Five, forward deployed in NAF Atsugi, Japan. Detachment Five’s mission includes the transport of high-priority cargo, mail, duty passengers and Distinguished Visitors between USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and shore bases throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia theaters.
The incident will be investigated.
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