Marine Corps Issues Service-Wide Safety Review

The order comes days after three Marines were killed when an MV-22 Osprey went down in Australia during a training exercise.

The MV-22 Osprey’s mission for the U.S. Marine Corps is the transportation of troops, equipment, and supplies from ships and land bases for combat assault and assault support. [Courtesy: Naval Air Systems Command]

In the wake of two fatal air crashes in as many days this week, the top Marine Corps commander has called for "a thorough and harsh review" of processes in a service-wide safety review.

On August 25, an F/A-18 Hornet pilot was killed when the fighter crashed during a training exercise near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar shortly before midnight. Three Marines were killed and 20 injured two days later when an MV-22B Osprey went down during a training exercise on a remote island in northern Australia on Sunday morning. The accidents followed a fatal accident during infantry training earlier in the month. On Aug. 17, a Marine was killed during a nighttime live-fire training exercise at Camp Pendleton, California. 

"Every aspect of training from safe weapons handling to proper ground guides to the ruthless adherence to standards in our aircraft and vehicles, demonstrates that we are indeed professional warriors," General Eric Smith, acting commandant of the Marine Corps, said in an administrative message Wednesday. The unit-level review is to be completed by September 15.

"Although we are making significant improvements to lethality and our readiness for future challenges, we continue to lose nearly a platoon’s worth of Marines and Sailors to training accidents and off-duty mishaps each year," he said.

The Marine Corps confirmed to FLYING that the remains of three killed in the MV-22B crash in the Tiwi Islands in northern Australia arrived in Darwin Wednesday evening. They have been identified as Major Tobin J. Lewis, 37; Captain Eleanor V. LeBeau, 29; and Corporal Spencer R. Collart, 21. Lewis and LeBleu were piloting the aircraft during the incident.

"The cause of the incident remains under investigation," the Corps said in a statement. "One Marine remains in critical condition and has been transferred to The Alfred Centre hospital in Melbourne. Two Marines remain in Royal Darwin Hospital in stable condition."

The training exercise included about 2,500 personnel from the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and East Timor, Reuters reported. During the accident, the Osprey "dove into a jungle and burst into flames," according to The Hill.

In June 2022, five Marines were killed when an Osprey went down during a training exercise in Southern California. In July, Marine Corps officials said a safety issue involving the clutch of the aircraft was the root cause of the accident.

Following the event, the Marines said it took a number of actions, including installing a crash-survivable flight data recorder into all MC-22B aircraft. It also said it coordinated with the aircraft’s OEM to design and field a new proprotor gearbox input quill assembly that mitigates unintentional clutch disengagements and hard clutch engagement events, as well as improve the aircraft’s drivetrain and flight control system software, drivetrain component material strength, and inspection requirements.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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