Two aircraft crashes from USS Ronald Reagan carrier in less than month
PHILIPPINE SEA — November 12, 2018
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) has resumed its regular operations after an F/A-18 Super Hornet from a Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 had crashed Monday morning, Task Force 70 spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight reported.
Two Navy aviators are safe after ejecting from an F/A-18 Super Hornet that “experienced a mechanical issue” over the Philippine Sea, a Navy statement said.
The Carrier Air Wing 5 aviators were “conducting routine operations” as part of their deployment with the USS Ronald Reagan when the problem arose.
After ejecting from the Super Hornet, the sailors were picked up by search-and-rescue aircraft from the Ronald Reagan and brought back aboard the Yokosuka-based carrier. The jet crashed into the ocean.
The crew members are in “good condition” and undergoing medical evaluations, the statement said.
The Ronald Reagan has resumed its regular operations, and the cause of the crash is under investigation.
U.S. Navy Aircraft Crashes in Philippine Sea— 7th Fleet (@US7thFleet) November 12, 2018
A F/A-18 from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 experienced a mechanical issue resulting in the crew ejecting. The crew was immediately and safely recovered by USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
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As USA Really reported less than a month ago, 12 people were injured when a Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crashed on the Ronald Reagan’s flight deck in the Philippine Sea. The cause of that crash on Oct. 19 remains under investigation, said Task Force 70 spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight.
"All patients from the Oct. 19 helicopter crash have been released from the hospital in the Philippines and are currently receiving any necessary follow on care from Navy medical providers," he said.
Last November, a C-2A Greyhound cargo plane carrying 11 people went down in the Philippine Sea while flying to the Ronald Reagan from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Stars and Stripes reported.
Eight passengers survived, but three sailors – Lt. Steven Combs, Seaman Matthew Chialastri and Seaman Apprentice Bryan Grosso – died in the crash.
It appears the C-2, which is designed to carry people and cargo, suffered a rare double engine failure, two Navy officials told Stars and Stripes on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation. The officials said it was unclear what would have caused the engines to fail.
This accident is another evidence of sobering fact that US Navy aviation mishaps involving the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet have jumped 108% over the past five years. From fiscal years 2013 to 2017 the number of Super Hornet accidents rose from 45 to 94 per year, according to data obtained by Military Times.
There were engine fires, towing and flight deck collisions during taxi maneuvers, panels blown off aircraft by weather or the exhaust of other aircraft during shipboard operations, maintainer injuries and ground maintenance-generated damage, such as objects being closed within the Super Hornet’s canopy.
Like the other services, however, the Navy’s mishap spike began after 2013, the year automatic budget cuts known as sequestration took effect.
To meet the budget caps, the Navy cut depot work and purchases of spare parts, which meant fewer available aircraft. It also let go of experienced mid-grade maintainers and their supervisors: Losses that left fewer chief and senior chief petty officers on the flight line, even as the depth of experience of newer E-4s and E-5s dropped, Military Times wrote.
In May 2017, the foreign-policy magazine National Interest obtained emails from top Navy officials discouraging the disclosure of readiness numbers—figures that report how many aircraft are ready to fight in the event of a major conflict. At the time, nearly two-thirds of the Navy and Marine F-18s were unfit to fly. In 2015, the Marines’ CH-53E fleet was in even worse shape, with just 23% of aircraft able to fly a mission. A March 2017 email from Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis instructed the heads of public affairs across the military to “be cautious about publicly telegraphing readiness shortfalls.” The guidance reportedly came from Secretary Mattis himself, according to National Interest.
Earlier this year, all the accident data on the Naval Safety Center website, a Navy command dedicated to working on safety issues has been placed in a closed section of the website requiring a DoD Common Access Card (CAC) for access. The removal of this data from public view is troubling for aviators themselves, too. Their aircraft may now face less scrutiny both from the public and from reporters. By removing this information, the Navy has obviously reduced its transparency. Even though the Navy’s accident data will hypothetically still be available through a request system, the act of making the data private effectively makes it secret.
In addition to that, details released last week about a drug ring run by USS Ronald Reagan sailors revealed that the number of service members involved totals 15, Stars and Stripes reported.
Two enlisted personnel, Machinist's Mate Nuclear 2nd Class Andrew Miller and Electrician's Mate Nuclear 2nd Class Sean Gevero, will be court-martialed on charges of possession and distribution of the hallucinogenic drug LSD. Gevero has also been charged with possessing another controlled substance, the steroid nandrolone decanoate. 10 of their crewmates from the department received administrative discipline for unspecified charges related to LSD. 3 more sailors, including 2 from the reactor department, could potentially face court martial but have not yet been charged.
14 of the 15 sailors implicated in LSD operation were assigned to the aircraft carrier’s nuclear reactor department, which has a staff of more than 400, said 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Joe Keiley. Those suspected of involvement were taken off from their duties as the investigation got underway.