Home » Aviation » Super Hornet from USS Carl Vinson Crashes Near the Philippines, Pilot Safe

Super Hornet from USS Carl Vinson Crashes Near the Philippines, Pilot Safe

An F/A-18E Super Hornet from the “Kestrels” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on April 10, 2017. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated with additional information from U.S. Pacific Fleet.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet on approach to land on aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) crashed on Friday near the Philippines, Navy officials told USNI News.

The pilot of the aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 2, ditched the aircraft in the sea, safely ejected and was recovered by a helicopter flown from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4 “Black Knights,” according to a brief release from U.S. 7th Fleet.

“The incident is currently under investigation,” read the statement.
“The pilot is being assessed by the medical team on board USS Carl Vinson and there are no apparent injuries at this time.”

The crash occurred at 6:55 P.M. local time (6:55 A.M. EDT).

The Vinson Strike Group is currently in the Celebes Sea and is in transit north for previously announced presence operations off the Korean Peninsula.

Earlier this week, strike group commander Rear Adm. Jim Kilby announced that strike group would extend their deployment by a month.

The strike group recently completed a bilateral training operation off of the coast Western Australia with the Royal Australian Navy.

The Vinson Strike Group deployment is being overseen by U.S. Third Fleet based in San Diego, Calif. as a test of the Navy’s ability to command and control forces in the Western Pacific, reported USNI News earlier this year.

The following is the complete April 21, 2017 statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.

USS Carl Vinson — A pilot safely ejected and was quickly recovered by a helicopter assigned to HSC-4 aboard USS Carl Vinson while conducting routine flight operations during a transit in the Celebes Sea.

The incident occurred as the F/A-18E assigned to Carrier Air Wing 2 was on final approach to USS Carl Vinson. The incident is currently under investigation. The pilot is being assessed by the medical team on board USS Carl Vinson and there are no apparent injuries at this time.

  • RunningBear

    Great news, thankfully the Naval Aviator was saved. All aircraft types crash, sooner or later, as history has proven. The lifetime overall reliability of a type determines it’s place (good/ bad) in history. When a new type arrives to replace it, one hopes the new reliability is better than the older reliability it is replacing. The Navy has made an effort to consolidate the a/c types in it’s inventory and now has a program in place to replace the predecessor to the Super Hornet F/A-18E/F. The predecessor aircraft type being replaced is the F/A-18A/D Hornet, by the F-35C Lightning II. Many in Naval Aviation are concerned that the F-35C can not only replace the Hornet but also the Super Hornet, let the reliability determine the correct direction as the Lightning II goes into service, next year.

    • KM

      You have information that this was a mechanical or system failure?

    • CMazed

      Speaking of reliability, I hope those F-35 engines are at least 2x as reliable as the F-18s. They only have the one engine. God help these aviators if they have an engine failure at sea.

      • Duane

        Engine failures are extremely rare in current technology jet aircraft.

        And when an engine fails in a twin engine, it is quite likely to be a catastrophic turbine failure which is rather likely to also take out the engine sitting next to it inside the fuselage.

        This particular accident happened, of course, on a twinjet. Whether it was an engine failure, or due to some other cause, requires completion of an investigation. It could have been a pilot error, a failure in some other aircraft system (such as flight controls, fuel system, hydraulic system, etc.), or possibly something else. With the aircraft being at the bottom of the deep blue sea, it may be difficult to determine with certainty the cause of the crash.

      • Oskar

        A-4 Skyhawks, F-8 Crusaders, Super Etendards, Harriers…..

    • John Jorgensen

      We’ll see

    • Duane

      The F-35 is not a “replacement” for the Super Hornet or the Hornet. The F-35 is its own class of fifth generation fighters.

      It is correct to say that the F-35C, once it is operational (in 2019) will “supersede” all prior fighter/attack aircraft in the Naval inventory.

    • Oskar

      The first operational squadron scheduled to fly F-35C’s, currently flies Super Hornets.

  • Melvin Furd

    I am glad the pilot was not seriously injured.

  • ObamaIsAMuslim

    Glad our pilot is safe…. Fight the good fight troops.

  • Marjus Plaku

    I was going to ask what happens to the aircraft, in case inquiring eyes want to salvage equipment, and then saw that the Celebs Sea is generally deep down to 20,000+ feet. I guess no one is getting that Hornet?

    Although the USN did recover some of the forward section of the K-129 (including two nuclear warheads) at a similar depth many many years ago so I guess it is possible.

    • Deplorable Vulgarian Guppy2

      When I was in the USMC (80’s) my MOS was Aviation Supply (3072) and was with RMS (Repairable Material Section), any way, we would get the avionics salvaged from crashes, you would be surprised how warm Pacific saltwater will eat up electronics .
      We had a F4 go down off the Philippines, after a couple days under water the units looked like they were there for years.

  • La Billyboy

    The most dangerous minute in a naval aviator’s life… just about anything can cause this type of crash. Fuel, engine, landing gear, tail hook, hydraulics… split second decision to ditch, go around or crash… Glad the pilot is safe.

    • Funkenstein✓Funk.ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ™


      Landing a fighter on a carrier is, for all practical purposes, a controlled crash – the pilot flies the plane into/onto the carrier deck, and immediately slams the throttle to max in case the aircraft’s tail hook doesn’t engage the arresting cable, and the pilot has to lift off and fly around for another landing attempt.

      And, in combat conditions, these pilots may do these landings on carriers without lights.

      Tough planes, tough pilots. Hate to lose an aircraft during a mishap, but it can be replaced. The pilot in question can’t.

    • OldSaltUSNR

      … add to that, just nerves and/or tired eyes and hands after a long mission, landing in high sea states. It’s easy to make a mistake, and that job is unforgiving. (I was helo control officer on a Navy frigate for a few years; hairy scenes were almost routine, maybe once a month. I was living or dying at helo rotor blade level …..)

  • JoeDrager

    I guess they can only patch these AC for so long.

    • A Day

      Just a matter of how much bondo and duct tape you got to use.

    • Duane

      The Super Hornets aren’t that old. The earlier Hornets are getting long in the tooth, but they are being “SLEPed” as they hit the max service life of 6,000 flight hours. Once the F-35 is operational and deliveries start accelerating, the Navy will stop SLEPing the old Hornets and just retire or sell them.

      • Old Coasty

        The U.S. Navy plans to start with one F-35C and three F/A-18E/F squadrons per Carrier Wing eventually ramping up to two and two. As of now that is where the Navy plans to stop.

    • Oskar

      I don’t have to guess that you have nary a clue about F/A-18E’s still being in production…

  • …and Pork Chop Jr. thought they were peeking in his window…

  • Joe Ragman

    The included map leaves nothing to the imagination as to where the Carl Vinson is located. That’s not very smart.

    • A Day

      I’m sure anyone who wants to know already knows. These vessels are not all that small.

    • John Campbell ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

      I could be wrong, but I suspect anyone and everyone who wants a birds eye view of the CVBG probably is watching via satellite in real time. In other words, the only people that don’t know exactly where the USS Carl Vinson is would be us here in this forum.

  • Bowling Green Massacre

    Worn out old cold-war relics, half of them are grounded… corroding junk

    • KM

      The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet did not enter service fully until 1999. Hardly a “worn-out cold-war relic”.

    • Doni609


    • Fred Gould

      The echo’s are not corroded junk. I was at NADEP Jax a month ago.

    • Oskar

      Amateur idiocy.

      F/A-18E’s are STILL in production…

      • Bowling Green Massacre

        yeah of course they are, The USA has to produce them because the F-35 is a pile of garbage.

        • Oskar

          Says the amateur….

          Clearly, you can’t comprehend the last 255-odd years of CONTINUOUS COMBAT the USN/USMC has been in.


          It WORE OUT their fighters far faster than expected…

          What was the kill ratio of the F-35 at Red Flag?

          How many countries are buying F-35’s?
          How FEW are buying SUB-PAR Hornets?

  • A Day

    If you like your freedom, find an active military or vet and thank them. These guys do the down and dirty for us.

  • NofDen

    Probably the second most dangerous job in the world is landing on a carrier. The first most dangerous job is landing on a carrier at night.

    • Hugh

      Even moreso, with aircraft damaged and pilot wounded, eg after combat. Really awesome personnel.

  • John Campbell ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

    That’s true, but your comment is still off topic. :o)

    • Cam

      Couldn’t resist. My sincerest apologies.

      • AmPatriotSmith

        I understand your anger

  • Blackie The Kat

    the color blue is bluer then the color pink.

  • Doni609

    Any man that can set one of those planes down on a carrier deck is by far a better man than I. So glad that this well trained pilot survived this mishap. Aircraft are expensive but human life is precious and not replaceable. Navy and Marine aviators are the best!

    • KBKXMC

      Aircraft loss through accidents or mechanical trouble being an unfortunate but ultimately expected byproduct of active carrier operations, it’s always good to see a pilot OK after an incident.

  • AmPatriotSmith

    I second that in motion.

  • AmPatriotSmith

    I am glad also that our pilot is safe. God Bless our Troops

  • AmPatriotSmith

    The enemy of the people is the Progressive Left. The media is only the instrument of the socialist agenda

  • AmPatriotSmith

    I am glad also that our pilot is safe.

  • Porty1119

    Off-topic, but correct nonetheless!!

  • Doug

    And this was a night trap too?

  • Michael D. Woods

    The guy had probably less than a second to deal with whatever presented itself, but now some accident board will spend months looking at every detail and end up blaming the pilot–they always do.

  • Oskar

    Even with its cock-eyed wing pylons?