The US Navy announced Saturday it would suspend all flight operations to conduct safety reviews and training following three recent crashes, including one this week in Imperial County that killed five US Marines.
Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, commander of the Naval Air Forces, has ordered more than 300 naval aviation units not stationed in the United States or abroad to take a one-day hiatus on June 13 to review their security procedures and practices.
The deployed units will conduct the review “at the earliest opportunity,” the Navy announced.
“To maintain our force’s readiness, we must ensure that the safety of our people remains one of our top priorities,” said Cmdr. said Zachary Harrell. “We know that the most valuable resource we have is our employees, and we just want to be sure that we’re doing our best to protect them during training and on the job.”
The security pause does not apply to the US Marine Corps.
The order comes after three crashes involving US Navy and Marine Corps aircraft this month. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
On June 3, a Navy pilot, Lt. Richard Bullock, killed when his F/A-18E Super Hornet jet crashed during a training mission in the desert in the general area of Trona, San Bernardino County.
On Wednesday, another crash killed all five US Marines aboard an MV-22B Osprey during a training mission near Glamis in Imperial County, about 150 miles east of San Diego near the Arizona-Mexico border. The aircraft was based with Marine Aircraft Group 39 at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton and crashed near Coachella Canal Road and Highway 78 at approximately 12:25 p.m.
The Marines killed were Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois; Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, NH; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyo.; Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, California; and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, NM
On Thursday, a Navy helicopter carrying four crew members crashed near El Centro during a training flight. One person suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was discharged from the hospital, Harrell said in an interview.
The incidents follow several other crashes across the country that have revived concerns – including from members of Congress – about the safety of military aviation going back several years.
On Monday, two airmen were injured when an AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed near an Army base in southern Alabama, officials said. In March, a Marine MV-22B Osprey crashed in Norway, killing four.
Spurred on by those crashes, Congress could tighten requirements for the military’s flight safety reporting, according to Defense One, a military news site.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-11/after-series-of-crashes-u-s-navy-to-pause-flight-operations-for-safety-reviews After series of crashes, U.S. Navy to pause flight operations for safety reviews