NORFOLK- The Navy is crediting excellent preparations for the safe recovery of 25 sailors and Marines following a helicopter crash in the Horn of Africa Region.
It happened Monday evening, when a Marine CH-53 E Super Stallion crashed in the gulf of Aden, en route back from Djibouti to the Norfolk based USS Mesa Verde.
The 73,000 pound aircraft is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the US. military's inventory. Somehow, it did not immediately sink, perhaps prompting one Facebook poster to write: "Thank you God for the miracle at sea."
The Navy's fifth Fleet command in Bahrain attributed the good outcome to excellent training.
"It could've been a lot worse," said Lieutenant Joe Hontz, in an interview with 13 News Now. "This goes back to their training. They're always training for any kind of situations, any type of event that could occur."
Hontz had high praise for entire Mesa Verde team, including the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. "They were faced with a pretty difficult situation and they banded together to save 25 of their fellow sailors and Marines," he said, adding: "The family members back home should be very proud of their heroic actions."
No cause for the accident has been announced. The Navy and the Marine Corps have launched a joint investigation.