A day after a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey crashed in waters off of Queensland, Australia, after launching from an amphibious assault ship, an Australian hydrographic survey ship located the wreckage of the aircraft, officials said.
The HMAS Melville detected the location of the crashed Osprey on Sunday, and an embarked dive team from the Royal Australian Navy is now beginning recovery operations near the site, officials from III Marine Expeditionary Force said early this morning.
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"Dive team members finalized planning in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy aboard USS Bonhomme Richard," a III MEF spokesman, Capt. Eric Flanagan, said in a statement. "The dive team plans to commence recovery operations using a remote operating vehicle this evening."
The Osprey, which belonged to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, the air combat element of the deployed 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, crashed Saturday around 4 p.m. local time after launching from the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard during the course of routine operations.
Aboard the Osprey were 26 troops assigned to the 31st MEU; 23 were quickly recovered, and a search-and-rescue effort was launched for the remaining three Marines. But after 11 hours of searching, officials announced that they were suspending the search for survivors and transitioning to recovery efforts.
The three Marines lost in the crash have yet to be identified. It's not clear if recovery teams have yet located the remains of the fallen.
"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," Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in a statement.
"They volunteered their help before we could even ask, demonstrating their friendship and value as international partners," he added. "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."
This tragic aircraft crash is the second of the summer for the Marine Corps, following a KC-130T crash in July that claimed the lives of 16 troops.
An investigation has been launched to determine why the Osprey went down.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.