This post has been updated with a statement from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.
Three sailors are missing after a Navy C-2A Greyhound transport aircraft crashed off of Okinawa in the Philippine Sea on Wednesday, U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement.
Now, U.S. and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force ships and aircraft are conducting search and rescue operations in the Philippine Sea.
“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),” read the statement.
“Reagan is operating in the Philippine Sea as part of an exercise with JMSDF.”
The Greyhound was assigned “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Detachment Five, forward deployed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
Eight of the passengers were recovered about an hour after the crash at 3:23 p.m. local time and were taken for medical evaluation aboard Reagan. They are in good condition, according to 7th Fleet.
While the Navy often flies distinguished visitors and journalists to carriers via C-2s as part of the service’s public outreach programs, a statement from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson indicated those on the aircraft were U.S. sailors.
“Our sailors are in my thoughts and prayers as we perform search and rescue operations for a downed aircraft in the Philippine Sea. Eight of eleven sailors are safe and sound on USS Ronald Reagan,” said in a Wednesday morning statement.
“We continue to search for three.”
A parallel investigation into the crash is underway while the search and rescue effort continues.
A detachment of C-2s, some of the oldest planes in the Navy, accompany carrier strike groups as they travel throughout a deployment. They follow the strike group as it moves and ferry mail and passengers too and from the carrier at distances out of the range of a strike group’s helicopters.
The more than 50-year-old Greyhound design is set to be replaced by a variant of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in the early 2020s.
The following is the complete statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.
PHILIPPINE SEA – Search and rescue operations recovered eight personnel following a C2-A Greyhound aircraft crash southeast of Okinawa at approximately 3:23 p.m. today.
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.
A family assistance center is online at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Families who live off base in Japan can call 0468-16-1728. Families living in the United States can call +81-468-16-1728 (international); families who live on base can call 243-1728 (DSN).