The Navy's Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) deployed the team to Japan in December to embark on a contracted salvage vessel and proceed to the crash site at sea. Once on station, operators searched for the aircraft's emergency relocation pinger with a towed pinger locator (TPL) system. The TPL uses passive sensors to “listen” for the pinger’s frequency.
Initially delayed by poor weather conditions, the team deployed the TPL to optimal search depths of 3,000 feet above the ocean floor on Dec. 29. After marking the aircraft’s location, the search team returned to port.
The C-2A rests at a depth of about 18,500 feet, making the salvage phase of this operation the deepest recovery attempt of an aircraft to date. In the coming weeks, the team will return to the site with a side-scan-sonar (SSS) and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to map the debris field and attach heavy lines for lifting the aircraft to the surface.
"Despite very challenging conditions, every effort will be made to recover the aircraft and our fallen sailors," the Navy said in a Jan. 5 press release.
Assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC 30) forward-deployed to Japan, the C-2A Greyhound was carrying 11 crew and passengers when it crashed.
Eight personnel were recovered immediately by Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12. For the next three days, the Ronald Reagan and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force conducted search and rescue operations for the three missing sailors, covering nearly 1,000 square nautical miles before ending the search.
An investigation is in progress.