A sudden storm that blew through Norfolk Naval Station, Va., on Jul. 26, 2022 in the afternoon damaged at least 10 US Navy helicopters.
A sudden storm that blew through Norfolk Naval Station, Va., on Jul. 26, 2022 in the afternoon damaged at least 10 US Navy helicopters, USNI News reported.
The storm resulted in 10 Class A ground mishaps – mishaps that result in more than $2.5 million in damage or the total loss of the aircraft, according to a service initial assessment reviewed by USNI News.
“The Navy is continuing to assess the full extent of the damages to each airframe, but there are no impacts to operational forces as a result of this incident,” Cmdr. Rob Myers with Naval Air Forces Atlantic told USNI News in a statement. “Known damages to the aircraft span from broken tail and rotor blades to structural dents and punctures in the airframes. No personnel were injured during the storm.”
According to the assessment the helicopters damaged were five MH-60S Knight Hawks, one MH-60R Sea Hawk and four MH-53E Sea Dragon mine countermeasures helicopters.
The MH-53E Sea Dragon fills the Navy’s need for long-range minesweeping missions, in addition to heavy-lift duties. The service has about 30 of the mine hunting Sea Dragons in its inventory, according to the most recent data from Naval Air Systems Command. The service has delayed retiring aging helicopters as the Navy has been slow to develop a new airborne mine-hunting platform.
At least four of the multi-million-dollar helicopters – one MH-53E and three MH-60s – were blown over by the wind, according to images of the damage circulating on social media.
On Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a severe thunderstorm alert at 3:30 p.m., with a warning of winds more than 60 miles per hour. According to the damage assessment, the high winds hit Norfolk’s Chambers Field at 3:42 p.m. – 12 minutes after the initial warning.
When given enough warning, aircraft in the path of bad weather are taken into their hangars or tied down. However, the storm came at a time when aviation maintainers are usually in the midst of a shift change. It’s likely that most of the personnel were indoors and would have limited time to bring the aircraft in the hangars.
The Tuesday damage to helicopters is under investigation, Navy officials told USNI News.
Noteworthy as we have already reported a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighter assigned to USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) aircraft carrier sailing in the Mediterranean Sea blew off the ship’s deck on Jul. 8, 2022. The carrier was conducting a replenishment-at-sea, which was safely terminated through established procedures.
One Sailor received minor injuries while conducting operations during the unexpected heavy weather.
Details and the cause of the incident are under investigation.
Photo credit: USNI News