Home » Aviation » Search for 3 Sailors Missing After C-2A Crash in Philippine Sea Expands


Search for 3 Sailors Missing After C-2A Crash in Philippine Sea Expands

A C-2A Greyhound assigned to the Providers of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) on Nov. 15, 2017. US Navy Photo

The search and rescue effort for three sailors missing after a Wednesday C-2A Greyhound crash has expanded in the Philippine Sea, according to U.S. 7th Fleet.

U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft are searching for the sailors who were aboard the cargo aircraft that went down 500 miles off the coast of Okinawa at about 2:45 p.m. Japan Standard Time. Eight sailors aboard the C-2A were rescued and flown to aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) following the crash. The Greyhound was assigned “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Detachment Five, forward deployed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.

Ronald Reagan is leading combined search and rescue efforts with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). Searching through the night, several ships and aircraft covered more than 320 nautical miles as of this morning,” 7th Fleet said.

The ships and aircraft looking for the missing sailors are, “U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyers USS Stethem (DDG-63), USS Chafee (DDG-90) and USS Mustin (DDG-89); MH-60R Seahawk helicopters of the “Saberhawks” from U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 77); P-8 aircraft from the “Fighting Tigers” of U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 8; P-3 Orion aircraft of the “Red Hook” U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 40; JMSDF Helicopter Carrier Japan Ships JS Kaga (DDH-184) and JS Ise (DDH-182); JMSDF Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD-116); JMSDF Murasame-class destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106), and JMSDF Hatakaze-class destroyer JS Shimakaze (DDG-172),” according to a Thursday statement from 7th Fleet.
“Next of kin notifications to inform families that their sailors are duty status whereabouts unknown (DUSTWUN) are complete. Names will be withheld for up to 72 hours in accordance with U.S. Navy policy.”

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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 forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG-63) joins Republic of Korea Navy ships for a photo exercise with the aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on Oct. 18, 2017. US Navy Photo

The following is the complete statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.

PHILIPPINE SEA – Search and rescue operations continue for three Sailors following a C-2A Greyhound aircraft crash southeast of Okinawa at 2:45 p.m. yesterday.

Next of kin notifications to inform families that their Sailors are duty status whereabouts unknown (DUSTWUN) are complete. Names will be withheld for up to 72 hours in accordance with U.S. Navy policy.

Eight Sailors were recovered and transferred to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for medical evaluation. All are in good condition at this time.

USS Ronald Reagan is leading combined search and rescue efforts with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). Searching through the night, several ships and aircraft covered more than 320 nautical miles as of this morning.

The following ships and aircraft are searching the area: U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyers USS Stethem (DDG 63), USS Chafee (DDG 90) and USS Mustin (DDG 89); MH-60R Seahawk helicopters of the “Saberhawks” from U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 77); P-8 aircraft from the “Fighting Tigers” of U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 8; P-3 Orion aircraft of the “Red Hook” U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 40; JMSDF Helicopter Carrier Japan Ships (JS) Kaga (DDH 184) and JS Ise (DDH 182); JMSDF Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD 116); JMSDF Murasame-class destroyer JS Samidare (DD 106), and JMSDF Hatakaze-class destroyer JS Shimakaze (DDG 172).

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 Ronald Reagan.

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 is under investigation.

  • leroy

    The cause is under investigation, but CBS News is reporting a possible twin-engine failure. Unusual to say the least. It suggests possible fuel contamination. Of course, in these types of incidents one need wait for the final investigation to determine cause(s).

    Hopefully one of the cockpit crew survived (prayers to all concerned) in order to shed light on what happened. One thing is for sure. The C-2 has good ditching qualities (check out its flat belly and the high-wing/engine placement). Replacing it with the MV-22 is big mistake in my opinion. I don’t expect the MV-22 to ditch as well. Heck, I don’t think it can even auto-rotate!

    • DefTactics

      Leroy, I could not Agee more ! The C-2 is a great, well designed rugged aircraft. It has preformed it’s intended mission for a very long time. Using a MV -22 for this mission is just a dumb Navy idea of trying to fit the Osprey to the C-2 mission.It would be better to life extent the C-2 or build a cargo version of the Hawkeye ! I would suspect there would be airframe concerns with a 50 year old aircraft launching and landing from a CVN.Lord please protect our Military Personel and save the missing 3 sailors. Happy Thanksgiving !

      • leroy

        I 100% agree. BTW – CBS just took down the report about a twin-engine failure, but that’s what they were saying this AM. Pilots did a fine job of ditching, something the MV-22 probably won’t do well. Whomever picked the Osprey to replace the C-2 should have his/her head examined! They could have done new-build C-2s. Heck, it’s just an E-2 without the radar and electronics, etc. I’m pretty sure the line is still active.

        • Troy Booker

          The C-2 and E-2 are completely different airplanes. The fuselage is wider and the tails are different. Same engines, same cockpit.

          • leroy

            Same family, same basic aero design, but of course some differences.

          • Rocco

            Correct

          • leroy

            BTW – I thought you’d find this interesting:

            “The C-2 Greyhound, a derivative of the E-2 Hawkeye, shares wings and power plants with the E-2, but has a widened fuselage with a rear loading ramp.”

            From Navy dot mil.

        • El Kabong

          Agreed.

          Why a trash hauler needs to be a complicated tilt-rotor, is a mystery.

          • Rocco

            Lol

      • muzzleloader

        While the Greyhound is a 50 year old design, the ones currently in service are not that old. In 1984-86,39 brand new Greyhounds were manufactured, and by 1987 the original fleet had been retired.

      • Rocco

        Kudos!! Nice car!!

    • Duane

      Actually, a low wing is better for ditching than high – a high wing has a higher center of gravity, more likely to flip when it hits the water. The stall speed of the C-2 is reasonably slow (82 kn), while the CV-22 has a higher 110 kn stall speed in “airplane mode”. However the CV-22 also does an autorotate-assisted landing at considerably slower airspeed (though it’s not published),quite possibly slower than the C-2. The slower the airspeed the better, as long as the pilot is able to touch down at the slowest speed while maintaining control (not cartwheeling due a wingtip catching a wave, or pitchpoling if the nose is pitched down when hitting a wave).

      With ditchings, performance depends on several variables, including wind direction and speed, wave height, length, and geometry, airspeed, and the pilot’s skills, etc.

      • leroy

        I’d disagree about low-wing being better than high-wing. Look at seaplanes. I’m thinking the ShinMaywa US-2. The C-2 looks a lot like it. High wing, engines up where blades won’t make contact with the water, nice flat belly. Flare the C-2 when you touch the water, hold nose up as long as possible, and you should execute a successful ditch. Pretty much this crew did.

        Dig a low-wing’s nose into the water, catch the engine prop or nacelle in same water, and you could spin the plane around and then it might tumble, break apart. The stability of a high-wing should work for you both while flying as well as ditching. But I’m open to any reference you could point me to.

        • Duane

          Seaplanes are generally high wing (with wingtip floats), but that’s not because of ditching performance, but to keep the wings from getting pounded by the waves, and to keep the engines (and especially the props!) out of the water – any prop strike with the waves and the FAA requires the engines to be removed, torn down, and inspected for damage – the equivalent of requiring an engine overhaul.

          In a land airplane ditching, those seaplane design factors do not apply. A high wing means a high center of gravity relative to the center of friction (force exerted on the fuselage by the water), which will nearly always result in the aircraft flipping.upside down, which is a very bad condition to be in for the persons in the aircraft, for fairly obvious reasons. Low wings put the weight of the wings (and engines, if wing mounted) down low near the center of friction, greatly reducing the tendency of the aircraft to flip upside down.

          • leroy

            I don’t think you got that right Duane:

            Myth 2: If I Have to Ditch, I’m Better Off in a Low Wing Than a High Wing Airplane

            “You won’t convince us of that. Of the 179 ditchings, 87 involved high wing airplanes (49 percent), 73 were low wings (41 percent), and the rest were helicopters.

            Yet, in the subgroup that involved fatalities, high wing airplanes were noticeably underrepresented: Although they were involved in 49 percent of all the ditchings, they represent only 27 percent of the fatalities. On the other hand, low wing airplanes represent 41 percent of the total ditchings, but accounted for 68 percent of the fatalities.”

            Google; “Ditching Myths Torpedoed! by Paul Bertorelli”

          • Duane

            Leroy, with all due respect (I mean it), they author you cite uses statistics which as we all know can be and frequently are misleading. There are several variables that affect survival in a ditching besides the wing location, and they all must be considered. I cited physics, which are immutable – a high center of gravity aircraft will flip virtually every ditching, and flipping significantly increases the risk to crew and passengers.

            The author you cited failed to site the other relevant statistics that affect survival in a ditching … such as that the likelihood of a fatality is greatly increased by distance from shore, for fairly obvious reasons (more likely to not be found and rescued at all, longer time to be found and rescued, so longer time in water thus increasing chances of hypothermia, and of course deeper water). Most transoceanic aircraft (i.e., jet transports) today are low wings.

            The majority of light aircraft mostly ditch in the more survivable near-shore coastal waters or inland waters (harbors, lakes, ponds, rivers), and the majority of light aircraft are high wing.

            The fact of physics is that low wings are much less prone to flipping when they hit the water in a ditching, unless the landing gear are fixed (as many are in light aircraft) in which case even a low wing will tend to flip. Retractable gear are much better at ditchings than fixed gear.

            With the C-2 and Osprey, both are high wing retractable gear aircraft with relatively high centers of gravity relative to centers of friction. However, the Osprey has the advantage of its autorotate assisted landing, with the engines and props rotated with backward tilt (110 degrees) that both slows the touchdown airspeed and stabilizes a ditching aircraft. To my knowledge there has only been one ditching of an Osprey since it went operational a decade ago, and all persons on board survived.

            We don’t know yet precisely what happened with the three that did not survive the C-2 ditching, whether the aircraft flipped, whether the deceased were trapped inside, or made it outside and then perished … much left to learn.

          • muzzleloader

            During WW2, scores of B-17 Flying Fortresses, as well as many B-29’s ditched at sea. The likelihood of survival was good in that the low wings absorbed much of the impact, plus the wing area aided in flotation, at least long enough for the crew to escape to their rafts. The B-24 Liberators had the low Davis wing, where ditching was a very dicey maneuver. The fuselage absorbed the full brunt, and all that plexiglass in the nose was no match. Plus the wing was very likely to hit the water which could cartwheel the plane with disastrous results.The ditching scene in Unbroken depicts this very well.

          • Rocco

            Agreed C-47 as well

    • Rocco

      CBS new sucks!!