The U.S. Navy is sending a team of deep-water salvage experts to search for the transport plane that crashed into the western Pacific Ocean in November.
The Navy said is a statement that while “the aircraft’s last position on the surface of the water is known, the depth of water in that area exceeds 16,000 feet, beyond the capabilities of salvage assets in theater.”
Eight people were rescued about 40 minutes after the crash, but three sailors were lost at sea.
The Navy statement said “every effort will be made to recover the fallen sailors.”
The salvage experts deployed from Washington will be led by the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving. The team will board a salvage vessel in Japan and then proceed to the crash site where the group will search for the aircraft’s emergency relocation pinger.
“If the search is successful, additional deep water salvage assets will deploy to survey and recover the aircraft,” the Navy said.
Eight U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships, three helicopter squadrons and maritime patrol aircraft covered nearly 1,000 square nautical miles in November in the search for the missing sailors.
The Navy said the twin-propeller C2-A Greyhound aircraft plummeted into the sea about 925 kilometers southeast of Okinawa while it was on a routine mission taking passengers and cargo from a U.S. base in Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
There was no immediate explanation for the crash. An investigation was launched and continues.
The Reagan was operating in the Philippine Sea as part of joint exercises with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, part of 10 days of training designed to increase defensive readiness and interoperability in air and sea maneuvers between the two countries.