The US Navy announced it is starting a mission to survey the downed C-2A Greyhound aircraft that crashed into the Philippine Sea en route to aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan on November 22.
The navy will carry out the mission with help from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s research vessel R/V Petrel which will depart from the Philippines in the coming days and proceed to the C-2A’s location at sea.
Once on station, salvage experts will deploy a side-scan-sonar (SSS) and remote operated vehicle (ROV) to survey and map the ocean floor. After the survey is complete, SUPSALV will analyze the data and assign an appropriate vessel, equipment, and personnel for recovery efforts.
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. It is also expected that heavy lines will be attached for lifting the aircraft to the surface.
The aircraft was discovered December 29, by a SUPSALV team using a towed pinger locator (TPL-25) system. The TPL-25 used passive sensors to “listen” for the C-2A pinger’s frequency. Salvage of an aircraft at this depth is unprecedented and the condition of the C-2A is unknown, making recovery very challenging, the navy said.
RV Petrel is a 250-foot research and exploration vessel with advanced underwater equipment and technology, making it capable of exploring to 6,000 meters deep (more than 3.5 miles).
Assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC 30) forward deployed to Japan, the C-2A aircraft was carrying 11 crew and passengers when it crashed. Eight personnel were recovered immediately by US Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC 12). For the next three days, USS Ronald Reagan led combined search and rescue for three Sailors with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), covering nearly 1,000 square nautical miles before ending the search.