Navy Aviation Under ‘Safety Pause’ Following String of Crashes

The safety review Monday comes after five Marines and a Navy pilot were killed in aircraft accidents last week.

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]

The U.S. Navy grounded all non-deployed aircraft for a "safety pause" Monday following a string of fatal accidents last week, the service announced.

The news comes following crashes of two Navy and one U.S. Marine Corps aircraft in California last week. Two of the three accidents were fatal.

"As a result of recent crashes involving U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, Commander, Naval Air Forces has directed all non-deployed Navy aviation units to conduct a safety pause on June 13 in order to review risk-management practices and conduct training on threat and error-management processes," the Naval Air Forces said in a statement.

"In order to maintain the readiness of our force, we must ensure the safety of our people remains one of our top priorities," the statement said.

Deployed aviation units have been directed to conduct the safety pause at the earliest opportunity, Naval Air Forces said.

Thursday evening, a U.S. Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter crashed near El Centro, California. All four air crew members on board the Seahawk survived the incident and were transported to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs for treatment, Naval Air spokesperson Ensign Bryan Blair told FLYING.

"Only one was treated for non-life threatening injuries, and all four were released," Blair said.

The Seahawk was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3, based at Naval Air Station North Island, California. At the time of the mishap, the crew was conducting a routine training flight, which had originated from Naval Air Facility El Centro.

The location of the MH-60S crash site was about 40 miles from Glamis, California—where a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B went down during a training mission the day prior on June 8, killing all five crew members on board.

The tiltrotor aircraft was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor (VMM) Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which is based at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California.

“This is an extremely difficult time for VMM-364, and it is hard to express the impact that this loss has had on our squadron and its families," VMM-364 Commanding Officer Lt. Col. John C. Miller said in a statement.

The Marine Corps identified those killed in the June 8 incident as:

  • Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois, a tiltrotor crew chief.
  • Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire, an MV-22B pilot
  • Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming, a tiltrotor crew chief
  • Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, California, an MV-22B pilot
  • Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico, a tiltrotor crew chief

On June 3, Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot Lt. Richard Bullock was killed when his aircraft went down during a routine training mission in a remote, unpopulated area near Trona, California. Bullock was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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