A US Navy plane crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa Wednesday afternoon, leaving three people missing in the latest of a string of troubling incidents facing the Navy in waters off East Asia this year.
The C2-A Greyhound transport plane was carrying 11 crew and passengers to an aircraft carrier when it crashed into the Philippine Sea around 2:45 p.m. Japan Standard Time, the Navy said.
Eight people have been rescued and are in good condition aboard the carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, the Navy said in a statement. US and Japanese ships and planes are searching the area for the three people who remain missing.
The names of those who were onboard are being withheld, pending the notification of their next of kin, the Navy said.
“Our entire focus is on finding all of our sailors,” Navy Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton said. “US and Japanese ships and aircraft are searching the area of the crash, and we will be relentless in our efforts.”
The plane was carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan to the carrier when the plane crashed about 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa, Japan.
A Navy public affairs officer told CNN the plane was on approach to the carrier, but didn’t know how far away it was from the ship.
The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, according to an initial statement from the US Navy 7th Fleet. “I have been informed from the US military that engine trouble may have caused (the crash),” Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Wednesday.