TOKYO • A United States Navy transport plane carrying 11 people crashed in the Philippine Sea south of Japan yesterday as it flew to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the US Seventh Fleet has said.
Eight people had been rescued, with the remaining three unaccounted for, it said, adding that all of the rescued personnel were transferred to the USS Ronald Reagan for medical evaluation, and were in good condition.
"Search and rescue efforts for three personnel continue with US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) ships and aircraft on scene," the US Seventh Fleet said in a news release. "The incident will be investigated."
The aircraft was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to the carrier, which was operating in the Philippine Sea as part of an exercise with Japanese forces, it said.
Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera told reporters the US Navy had informed him that the crash in the Philippine Sea may have been a result of engine trouble.
The propeller-powered transport plane, a C-2 Greyhound, carries personnel, mail and other cargo from mainland bases to carriers operating at sea.
C-2 aircraft have been in operation for more than five decades and are due to be replaced by the long-range tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft.
The US military has a heavy presence in the western Pacific, with tens of thousands of troops and billions of dollars' worth of hardware stationed throughout Japan and South Korea.
But recent months have taken their toll on the Seventh Fleet, which is headquartered at Yokotsuka, near Tokyo, and US military vessels have been involved in a number of accidents.
The USS John S. McCain collided with a tanker near Singapore in August, killing 10 sailors and injuring five others.
Two months earlier in June, the USS Fitzgerald and a cargo ship smashed into each other near Japan, leaving seven sailors dead.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE