Australia finds US Marine Corps aircraft that crashed off coast

Australia finds US Marine Corps aircraft that crashed off coast
© Greg Nash

An Australian Navy survey ship has located a U.S. Marine Corps aircraft that crashed over the weekend, leaving three Marines missing and presumed dead.

“Royal Australian Navy (RAN) survey ship HMAS Melville arrived in Shoalwater Bay overnight,” Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said in a statement Monday. “Shortly after commencing survey operations in the area, the submerged aircraft was located.”

On Saturday, the MV-22 Osprey crashed off the northeast coast of Australia during routine operations in what the service is calling a “mishap.” The incident is under investigation.

Twenty-three Marines aboard the aircraft were rescued, but three remain missing.

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On Sunday, the Marines called off the search for the missing, saying the operation was transitioning to recovery-and-salvage efforts.

The Australian Navy this evening will send an underwater drone to survey the site before sending in divers, Payne said in the statement.

“The Australian Government remains prepared to offer further support as required and our [Australian Defence Force] remains at short notice readiness to support any further requests,” Payne said.

Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF)‎, thanked Australia for its help in his own statement on Monday.

“I want to thank the Australian Defence Force, and the crew of the HMAS Melville in particular, for their assistance in the search and recovery effort of our MV-22 that went down off the coast of Australia," Nicholson said. “They volunteered their help before we could even ask, demonstrating their friendship and value as international partners. The crew of the Melville and its assets have been invaluable in the recovery effort. On behalf of the Marines, sailors, and families of III MEF, I thank you for your support.”