OKINAWA, Japan --
Search and rescue operations were underway for three U.S. Marines who were missing after their Osprey aircraft crashed into the sea off the east coast of Australia on Saturday while trying to land.
Twenty-three of 26 personnel aboard the aircraft have been rescued, the Marine base Camp Butler in Japan said in a statement.
The MV-22 Osprey involved in the mishap had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when the aircraft crashed into the water, the statement said. The ship's small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue efforts.
The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an airplane. They have been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.
The aircraft was in Australia for a joint military training exercise held by the U.S. and Australia last month in Shoalwater Bay. The Talisman Sabre exercise, a biennial event between the two nations, involved more than 30,000 troops and 200 aircraft.
Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Saturday's incident occurred off the coast of Shoalwater Bay in Queensland state.
"I can confirm no Australian Defence Force personnel were on board the aircraft," Payne said in a statement. "The United States are leading the search and recovery effort."
Payne said she had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis "to offer Australia's support in any way that can be of assistance."
In 2015, a U.S. Osprey crashed during a training exercise in Hawaii, killing two Marines. Last December, a U.S. military Osprey crash-landed off Japan's southern island of Okinawa. Its five crew members were rescued safely. And in January, three U.S. soldiers were wounded in the "hard landing" of an Osprey in Yemen.
Three Marines are missing after a Marine Corps V-22 Osprey experienced a mishap off the East Coast of Australia, officials with III Marine Expeditionary Force said Saturday morning in a news release.
A spokesman for III MEF, Capt. Eric Flanagan, said the mishap took place around 4 p.m. local time Saturday, or about 2 a.m. East Coast time. There were 26 personnel aboard the Osprey; 23 so far have been rescued, and a search-and-rescue effort continues for three Marines who have not been located.
The aircraft was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (reinforced), out of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan. In April, VMM-265 became the aviation combat element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is continuously deployed in the Pacific.
"The aircraft involved in the mishap had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when the aircraft entered the water," Flanagan said in a statement.
"The ship's small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue efforts. The 31st MEU is currently operating with the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group as part of a regularly-scheduled deployment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region," he said.
The mishap is under investigation, Flanagan said, and search operations are ongoing.
The Marine Corps also participates in rotational unit training deployments to Australia, known as Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, or MRF-D. However, in a message posted to the unit's Facebook account Saturday, MRF-D officials said no troops assigned to the rotation were involved in the V-22 incident.
For the Marine Corps, this is the second major aviation mishap of the summer. In July, a KC-130T transport aircraft crashed in Mississippi, resulting in the deaths of the plane's nine crew members and seven troops assigned to Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.
The last time a Marine Corps V-22 Osprey experienced a mishap was in December 2016, when a V-22 attempted a precautionary emergency landing off the coast of Okinawa, but crash-landed in shallow water instead. Members of the five-person crew were injured, but all survived the mishap.
A search and rescue operation is being conducted after a US military aircraft was lost off the Australian coast.
The incident involved an MV-22 Osprey belonging to the US Marines based in Okinawa, Japan.
The third Marine Expeditionary Force said the aircraft had launched for "regularly scheduled operations" before it entered the water.
Rescue teams recovered 23 people, but three service members are still missing.
Australian media reported the incident happened during an attempt to land on an aircraft carrier.
The MV-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft, capable of carrying 24 people at a time in addition to four crew members. It is similar to a conventional plane, but has helicopter-like rotor blades which allow it to take off vertically, without a runway.
Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted military sources as saying that the accident happened as the aircraft was trying to land on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
Australia's Defence Minister, Marise Payne, said she had spoken to her US counterpart, James Mattis, and confirmed the incident happened near Shoalwater Bay, off the coast of Queensland.
"I can confirm no Australian Defence Force personnel were on board the aircraft," she said in a statement.
US military forces have been operating in the area as part of a joint training exercise called Talisman Sabre. It involved some 30,000 personnel from both countries.
An MV-22 Osprey was destroyed earlier this year during a controversial raid by US forces in Yemen, after three crew members were injured in a "hard landing".
It was so badly damaged that US forces deliberately destroyed the craft in an air strike.
In July, 16 people died after a US Marine Corps plane crashed in Mississippi.
Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey
|C/n / msn:|| |
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: / Occupants: 26|
|Airplane damage:||Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||off the coast, near Shoalwater Bay, QLD - Australia|
|Departure airport:||USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)|
|USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)|
Crashed during a flight between two ships, reportedly while on approach/landing. There are said to be up to 3 POB missing and reports that up to 23 have been rescued. The aircraft was assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.