Losses and Aviation Safety

At least 10 US Navy helicopters (5 MH-60S Knight Hawks, 1 MH-60R Sea Hawk and 4 MH-53E Sea Dragons) Suffer Major Damage, Several Blown Over in Sudden Norfolk Storm

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.

US Navy helicopters damaged by a sudden thunderstorm on Jul. 26, 2022, at Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

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.

MH-53E Sea Dragon blown over by a sudden thunderstorm on Jul. 26, 2022, at Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Photo credit: USNI News

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

USAF releases first official photos of B-21 Raider stealth bomber in flight

First official photos of B-21 Raider stealth bomber in flight Taken at Edwards Air Force… Read More

8 hours ago

Naval Flight Officer explains why USS Enterprise (CVN-65) aircraft carrier can’t be turned into a museum

The USS Enterprise Commissioned at Newport News, Virginia, on Nov. 25, 1961, USS Enterprise was… Read More

2 days ago

Here’s why B-17 “Memphis Belle” was almost called “Little One”

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress flew in every combat zone… Read More

2 days ago

Cool video shows NASA DC-8 doing low pass over San Francisco Bay during its final flight

Low pass over San Francisco Bay NASA specially modified Douglas DC-8 airliner has made its… Read More

3 days ago