US amphibious drill off Djibouti canceled after two crashes

A CH-53E Super Stallion prepares to land on the flight deck aboard the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Feb. 14, 2018. Photo: US Navy

US Navy and Marine Corps have cancelled the Alligator Dagger amphibious drill taking place off Djibouti after two back-to-back aircraft crashes.

In addition to halting Alligator Dagger maneuvers, the US Naval Forces Central Command also cancelled all air operations in Djibouti after two separate aviation incidents took place in Djibouti on April 3.

First, an AV-8B Harrier from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) crashed at Djibouti Ambouli International Airport at approximately 4:10 p.m. local time. The pilot ejected and was evaluated and released by the expeditionary medical facility at Camp Lemonnier.

In a separate incident, a Marine CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter from the 26th MEU suffered structural damage during a landing at an approved exercise landing zone at Arta Beach, Djibouti, at approximately 6:40 p.m. local time. The aircrew were not injured during the landing and the helicopter has remained at the landing site pending additional assessment.

Alligator Dagger is a routine, scheduled training event involving US personnel and operations in the vicinity of Djibouti and Arta Beach Range.

The navy said both incidents were currently under a joint investigation adding that more information would be provided once available. A safety stand-down has also been initiated for all exercise participants.

Other operations carried out by US Naval Forces Central Command units are unaffected by this cancellation, and US Naval personnel continue to conduct maritime security operations throughout the region.

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