Losses and Aviation Safety

U.S. Navy recovers C-2A that fatally crashed in 2017 from 3 Miles Underwater

The C-2A was recovered from near its crash site about 500 miles from Okinawa in late May.

On May 21, 2019 the U.S. Navy has recovered the wreckage of a C-2A Greyhound from more than three miles below the surface, USNI News has learned. The aircraft went down on Nov. 22, 2017 in the Philippine Sea.

The aircraft was recovered from near its crash site about 500 miles from Okinawa in late May.

“A Navy salvage team embarked on a contracted vessel and completed the recovery of the C-2A aircraft on May 21,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Navy spokesman, told USNI News. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families, friends and shipmates of our three fallen sailors.”

The Greyhound’s pilot Lt. Steven Combs, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Matthew Chialastri and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso are presumed to have died following the crash.

A Navy official told USNI News that the families of the sailors have been notified of the recovery. The service is not discussing yet if remains were found aboard the aircraft.

The C-2A, assigned to the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, was headed to aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) with four aircrew and seven passengers aboard the aircraft when the crash occurred just miles from the carrier.

While the investigation into the incident has yet to be officially closed, accounts from survivors point to Combs performance as the reason eight sailors survived the crash. He had to ditch the aircraft following a mechanical failure in 10-foot to 12-foot seas, according to an account in Military.com.

Combs “flew the hell out of that airplane,” his copilot told service officials after the rescue.

While the survivors were quickly rescued by helicopters from Reagan, recovering the C-2A from some of the deepest parts of the Pacific was recognized early as a challenge that would take time.

The Navy found the location of the aircraft using the Navy’s TPL-25 towed pinger locator – a so-called black box detector – after about a week of searching.

While the Navy knew the location of the aircraft, the service said at the time the recovery effort would take time.

The depth in fact was beyond the 16,000-foot recovery capability native to U.S. 7th Fleet and required specialized equipment to be moved into the region.

As we have previously reported, the U.S. Navy has accelerated the sunset of the C-2 Greyhound Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft, from 2027 to 2024.

“We have accelerated the sundown of the C-2 from 2027 to 2024. We have our first (CMV-22B) aircraft being built in Philadelphia today, going down the line. That aircraft will deliver in FY 20. We then have to do a modified [operational test] and [developmental test] and the only thing … we’re testing are the things different on the CMV-22 as compared to the MV-22. So that’s going to be a very compressed test,” Rear Adm. Scott Conn, director of air warfare on the chief of naval operations’ staff (OPNAV N98) said last October.

The C-2As are 30 years old and were “nowhere near where we want it to be” in terms of operational availability, Conn said.

Photo credit: Boeing and U.S. Navy

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.

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