Report: Super Hornet Was Flying on One Engine Before Fatal Key West Crash

March 29, 2018 1:08 PM - Updated: March 30, 2018 11:54 AM
Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson, Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King. US Navy Photos

The post has been corrected to reflect the current Department of the Navy definition of a Class ‘A’ Mishap. An aircraft incident that results in a death or damage of $2 million or more. USNI News used an older definition that stated the damage threshold for a Class A mishap was $1 million of damage or more.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet was flying on only one engine before a crash that killed two naval aviators on approach to Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., according to a summary of the accident from the Navy Safety Center.

“F/A-18F while flying single engine, crashed on short final. 2 fatalities,” read a Navy Safety Center summary of the incident that killed Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King on March 14.

The Virginian Pilot first reported the Safety Center finding on Wednesday.

Witnesses to the crash reported seeing a fireball consume the Super Hornet as it was on approach to the NAS Key West Boca Chica airfield. The aircraft crashed in shallow water just short of the airfield. The Navy removed the aircraft last week following an examination by a service mishap investigation board.

A spokesman for Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT) told USNI News on Thursday that the command won’t see any results until the investigation has concluded. The squadron involved in the crash, the “Black Lions” of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 213 based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., fall under AIRLANT command.

A spokeswoman for the Navy Safety Center did not immediately respond to a message left by USNI News.

The single line was included in a summary of five of Class A aviation mishaps – aviation accidents that result in more than $2 million in damages or loss of life – that the Navy has suffered in the last six months. The list included a November C-2A Greyhound crash that killed three in the Pacific and an October T-45C Goshawk trainer crash in Tennessee that killed both the pilot and instructor.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox