Search for missing US sailors goes on

File photo of a C-2A Greyhound logistics aircraft, a re-supply workhorse for US aircraft carriers, routinely ferrying cargo, mail and people onto and off the globally deployed vessels.
File photo of a C-2A Greyhound logistics aircraft, a re-supply workhorse for US aircraft carriers, routinely ferrying cargo, mail and people onto and off the globally deployed vessels.PHOTO: REUTERS

American-Japanese effort to find trio after their plane crashed

TOKYO • Eight warships joined a US aircraft carrier and scores of helicopters and planes yesterday to search for three American sailors missing after their plane crashed in the Philippine Sea.

The families of the missing sailors were notified after a C-2A "Greyhound" aircraft with 11 people on board went down on Wednesday afternoon around 930km south-east of Okinawa, the US Navy said in a statement.

Eight sailors were rescued shortly after the accident and taken for medical evaluation to the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier that was in the Philippine Sea for an exercise with Japanese forces.

"All are in good condition at this time," the statement added.

The plane was on a routine transport flight, carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in southern Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan.

The carrier is leading the joint effort by the US and Japanese navies to find the missing sailors.

"Searching through the night, several ships and aircraft covered more than 320 nautical miles (600km) as of this morning," the US Navy said in a statement yesterday.

The American destroyers USS Stethem, USS Chafee and USS Mustin have been combing the area, along with maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters. They were joined by the Japanese helicopter carriers JS Kaga and JS Ise, as well as the Japanese destroyers JS Teruzuki, JS Samidare and JS Shimakaze.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump tweeted: "The @USNavy is conducting search and rescue following aircraft crash. We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved." The C-2A is a re-supply workhorse for US aircraft carriers, routinely ferrying cargo, mail and people onto and off the globally deployed vessels.

The cause of the accident is unknown. The US Navy has launched an investigation, and the US authorities initially told Japan on Wednesday that engine trouble was the suspected cause of the accident.

The crash is the latest in a string of recent accidents involving US naval vessels in the region.

In August, the destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a tanker off Singapore, killing 10 sailors and injuring five others.

Two months earlier, in June, another destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, and a cargo ship smashed into each other off Japan, leaving seven sailors dead.

There were two other, lesser-known incidents. In January, the USS Antietam ran aground near its base in Japan, and in May, the USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2017, with the headline 'Search for missing US sailors goes on'. Print Edition | Subscribe