Japan seeks to ground US Ospreys in wake of deadly Australia crash

Japan seeks to ground US Ospreys in wake of deadly Australia crash

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Japanese government is urging the U.S. military to ground all MV-22 Ospreys in Japan after one of the controversial tilt-rotor aircraft crashed off Australia’s eastern coast Saturday, presumably killing three Marines.

An Australian navy dive team began recovery efforts Monday using a remotely operated vehicle, a Marine Corps statement said. The submerged wreckage was found Sunday using the HMAS Melville’s “hydrographic capabilities.”

“I have requested that they refrain from all flight operations by MV-22 Ospreys in Japan,” newly appointed Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Sunday.

Onodera – who took over last week after the embattled Tomomi Inada resigned after a data cover-up scandal – also called on the Marines to provide information on the crash, to investigate its cause and to take preventative measures, a ministry spokeswoman said Monday. 

As of Monday afternoon in Japan, Marine officials had not responded to Onodera’s request or to requests for comment from Stars and Stripes.

The helicopter-plane hybrid from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 crashed into the sea around 4 p.m. Saturday after taking off from the USS Bonhomme Richard for regularly scheduled operations, Marine officials said in a series of weekend statements. 

The aircraft carrying 26 Marines was approaching the USS Green Bay when it smashed into the amphibious transport dock ship’s deck and slid into the ocean, the Brisbane-based Courier-Mail newspaper reported.

All but three of the Marines were rescued, statements and media reports said. 

The search for the missing Marines was called off around 3 a.m. Sunday local time. The crash’s cause is under investigation.

The families of the three Marines have been notified; however, their names have yet to be released.

After a shaky development history that included several high-profile crashes, the Osprey became a symbol of the anti-base resistance on Okinawa when it arrived on the island in 2012. The aircraft has since been the focal point of near daily protests, and expelling it from the island was among Gov. Takeshi Onaga’s major campaign promises. 

Ospreys were grounded in Japan last December after pilots ditched one in shallow water just off Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa. The crash, which happened during a…

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