Search Continues for Missing Sailors After US Navy Plane Crashes in Western Pacific

Search and rescue operations continued Thursday for three sailors still missing after a U.S. Navy transport plane crashed Wednesday into the western Pacific Ocean.

The Navy said the twin-propeller C2-A Greyhound aircraft plummeted into the sea about 925 kilometers (575 miles) southeast of Okinawa while it was on a routine mission taking passengers and cargo from a U.S. base in Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.

It said eight of the 11 people aboard were rescued about 40 minutes later and taken to the Reagan where they were reported in good condition.

The Navy said several U.S. and Japanese naval ships and aircraft have, so far, covered more than 320 nautical miles in their search for the missing.

There was no immediate explanation for the crash, and the Navy said the incident is being investigated.

Military exercises

U.S. President Donald Trump, at his oceanfront Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the Thanksgiving weekend holiday, said via Twitter that he is monitoring the situation.

Prayers for all involved, he said.

The Reagan was operating in the Philippine Sea as part of joint exercises with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force, part of 10 days of training designed to increase defensive readiness and interoperability in air and sea maneuvers between the two countries.

More than 14,000 U.S. personnel are participating in the drills, which also include the guided-missile destroyers USS Stethem, USS Chafee and USS Mustin, and a maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadron.

Fifth Navy incident this year

Wednesday's crash was the fifth major Navy incident in Asian waters this year.

Two fatal accidents left 17 sailors dead and prompted the Defense Department to remove of eight top Navy officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander.

The destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in August off Singapore, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead and five injured. The USS Fitzgerald, another destroyer, collided with a container ship in waters off Japan in June, killing seven sailors.

After investigations, the Navy concluded the collisions were avoidable, resulting from widespread failures by commanders and crew members, who did not recognize and respond quickly to the emergencies as they unfolded. The Navy has called for improved training, and increasing sleep and stress management for sailors.

Separately, in January, the USS Antietam ran aground near Yosuka, Japan, and the USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel in May.

Source: Voice of America

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