The Navy and Marine Aviation take a “safety pause” today after recent accidents

Following three recent accidents, two of them fatal, a “safety pause” went into effect today for all non-deployed Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.

“As a result of recent accidents involving U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, the Commander of the Naval Air Forces has ordered all non-deployed Navy aviation units to take a security standby on the 13th. June to review risk management practices and conduct threat training. and error management processes,” the Navy said in a press release released over the weekend.

“To maintain our force readiness, we must ensure that the safety of our people remains one of our top priorities,” the Navy said. “Deployed units will take the security pause as soon as possible.”

The recent string of Navy and Navy aviation mishaps began on June 3, when a Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed near Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in south-central California. Lieutenant Richard Bullock of Strike Fighter Squadron 113 (VFA-113) was killed in the incident.

On June 8, an MV-22B Osprey belonging to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing crashed near the Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro, killing all five crew members on board. The area, which is located between MCAS Yuma in Arizona and many facilities in San Diego, is a well-known route for Army and Marine aircraft.

The aircraft was based at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton with Marine Aircraft Group 39. The crew members were identified as Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois, Tiltrotor crew chief; Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of New Durham, New Hampshire, an MV-22B pilot; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming, Tiltrotor crew chief; Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, California, an MV-22B pilot, and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico, Tiltrotor crew chief.

The most recent mishap, on June 9, was non-fatal and involved a Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk helicopter that crashed near NAF El Centro, California around 6 p.m. The Navy says the four crew members of the helicopter They were recovered alive.

The Seahawk is part of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3 (HSC-3) based at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego. A Navy statement notes that “one crew member sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital.”

Although the Navy has called for a pause, “there has been nothing connecting the accidents, Commander. Zach Harrell, a spokesman for the San Diego-based Naval Air Forces, said The New York Times.

“If there is anything that comes out of the investigation that determines there is a link, that will be addressed immediately,” he told the newspaper.

Such security breaks have taken place before, Harrell told the Timesusually after several accidents have occurred in a short period of time.

The last time was in October 2020, Harrell said. The grounding followed two accidents, one of which resulted in two deaths.

So far this year, there have been nine Navy and Marine Corps Class A mishaps, the military term for the most serious crashes that result in property damage of $2.5 million or more, deaths or permanent total disabilities, he added. Harrell.

The recent series of accidents follows another on March 18, when four Marines were killed in an MV-22B that crashed in Norway. The crew was identified as Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Capt. Ross A. Reynolds of Leominster, Mass.; Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy of Cambridge, Ohio; and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore of Catlettsburg, Kentucky. All four were assigned to VMM-261.

The Air Force also recently experienced mishaps of its own, involving three F-16s in separate incidents.

The 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard owned both aircraft. The first incident took place on May 11 when an F-16 aircraft assigned to the unit overshot the end of runway 15 at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls after returning from what the 114th Fighter Wing statement described as a mission. of routine training.

The second incident took place about two weeks later, on May 31, when an F-16C aircraft assigned to the 114th Fighter Wing experienced what appeared to be a very similar landing accident.

The Air Force is currently investigating both Air National Guard mishaps with independent Safety Investigation Boards, said Rose Riley, an Air Force spokeswoman. the war zone In the past week.

“No time-critical safety issues have arisen from either mishap, and both investigations are ongoing,” he said. On Monday, Riley said there were no updates to his previous statements.

On June 6, a Taiwanese F-16 with an American pilot had to make an emergency landing in Hawaii after a landing gear problem. The pilot was expected to make a full recovery from unspecified injuries. But it marked the third time in a month that the nose gear of an F-16 collapsed during landing.

Asked if the Air Force was also investigating whether the Hawaii incident was related, Riley said last week that “critical safety issues and trends can be identified during mishap investigations. The US Air Force is in the process of completing the actions of the interim safety board and coordinating the Safety Investigation Board for the June 6 mishap. There are no obvious/immediate security concerns, although we have not ruled out or ruled out any common ground.”

Unlike the recent mishaps in the Navy and Marine Corps, the Air Force, which suffered no fatalities in the recent F-16 incidents, is not calling for a pause in flight.

“To date, no time-critical security issues have emerged that prompted immediate action in response,” Riley said.

Such a security withdrawal “would start with the unit, the weapons system and the High Command based on their initial assessment of the trend,” he said. “Otherwise, the Air Force Security Center investigates each mishap independently and if there are any critical security issues at any point (these involve hardware, software, policy or procedure that presents immediate harm, where intervention would prevent recurrence of the event that caused the identified damage or injuries) will be addressed immediately on those platforms, generally before the identification Safety Boards of Inquiry have been completed.”

We’re asking the Navy for more information about what your security pause entails. We will update this story when we get a response.

The deadly Osprey accident came just hours after the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee added language to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2023 that requires the deputy secretary of defense to report annually “on the findings and the approach of a joint aviation security council that the Pentagon has not yet created. ”, reported Defense One.

We reached out to key leaders of the House Armed Services Committee for more details. We will update this story with any information they offer.

Contact the author: howard@thewarzone.com

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