A Wednesday hard deck landing of a U.S. Army Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter on the deck of a Military Sealift Command (MSC) transport has left several injured, according to a release from U.S. Forces Japan.
The hard landing occurred on USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR-313) while the ship was underway about 20 miles off the coast of Okinawa, Japan at about 1:46 P.M. local time (12:46 A.M. EST) on Wednesday.
The status of the injured — U.S. Forces Japan indicated in a release six, while the Associated Press and Reuters reported seven — is unclear. A message left with MSC officials in the U.S. was not immediately returned.
The injured were transported to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa at Camp Foster.
The ten others onboard were unharmed, Japanese coast guard spokesman Shinya Terada told the AP.
The ship — with the damaged helicopter onboard — are currently on station off of Okinawa while the U.S. begins an investigation.
The accident occurred at the start of talks between Japan’s central government and the government of Okinawa — between Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and U.S. basing opponent Okinawan Governor Takeshi Onaga — over the replacement of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
“This accident is extremely regrettable,” Suga told reporters after a meeting with Onaga reported Reuters.
“The government has strongly requested the U.S. to swiftly provide information, look into causes and prevent a recurrence.”
The 62,000-ton Red Cloud is a Watson-class large, medium speed roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) maritime prepositioning ship based in Diego Garcia.
The following is the complete Aug. 12, 2015 release from U.S. Forces Japan.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
H-60 MISHAP OFF OKINAWA
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Six people were injured and a U.S. Army H-60 helicopter was damaged during a hard deck landing at 1:46 p.m., today (Aug. 12) aboard the USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR-313) while it was underway at approximately 20 miles east of Okinawa. The helicopter is currently on the deck of the USNS Red Cloud. The injured were transported to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Foster. The helicopter was conducting a local training mission. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Information will be released as soon as it becomes available.