UPDATED: Navy, Marine Corps Hold Aviation Safety Pauses Following Three Crashes

June 13, 2022 3:51 PM - Updated: June 13, 2022 6:49 PM
An MH-60S Knight Hawk, attached to the Golden Falcons of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, prepares to land on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) May 8, 2022. US Navy Photo

This story has been updated following the Marine Corps’ announcement that it would also hold a safety standdown.

The Navy and Marine Corps are holding aviation safety standdowns following three crashes this month, including two that were fatal.
The Navy’s standdown is so the service can “review risk-management practices and conduct training on threat and error-management processes,” according to a Saturday statement from Naval Air Forces.

The June 13 standdown applies to the Navy’s aviation squadrons that are not deployed, Naval Air Forces said.

“In order to maintain the readiness of our force, we must ensure the safety of our people remains one of our top priorities,” the statement reads.
“Deployed units will conduct the safety pause at the earliest possible opportunity,” it continues.

The Marine Corps on Monday announced it would also hold an aviation standdown to “review best practices, and focus on areas where we can improve in order to ensure our units remain capable, safe, and ready,” according to a memo signed June 13.

Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. Eric Smith called for the standdown, according to a service news release announcing the pause.

“Between 21 June and 1 July 2022, all Marine Aircraft Wing units will conduct a one-day Safety Stand Down in order to reinforce proper procedures, provide information, and gather feedback,” the Marine Corps memo reads. “Stand Downs shall be conducted during the above window so that previous operational commitments are minimally impacted.”

The standdowns follow three naval aviation crashes this month, including two that were fatal.

On Wednesday, a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey went down in the southern California desert, killing the five Marines aboard. One day later, a Navy MH-60S Knight Hawk from the “Merlins” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 crashed during flight training in El Centro, Calif. The helicopter’s crew was safely rescued.

The Marine Corps on Friday identified the five Marines killed in the Osprey crash as part of the “Purple Foxes” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364, which is based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The Marines were pilots Capt. John Sax, 33, from Placer, Calif., and Capt. Nicholas Losapio, 31, from New Durham, N.H., crew chiefs Cpl. Seth Rasmuson, 21, from Johnson, Wyo.; Cpl. Nathan Carlson, 21, from Winnebago, Ill.; and Lance Cpl. Evan Strickland, 19, from Valencia, N.M., 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said in a statement. The Marine Corps is investigating the crash.

On June 3, a Navy pilot died when his F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed near the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif., test range. The Navy identified the pilot as Lt. Richard Bullock, who was assigned to the “Stingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113, which is based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. The Navy is investigating the crash.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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