A U.S. Navy airplane that had 11 crewmembers and passengers aboard crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Japan on Wednesday, marking the latest potentially deadly accident that the Japan-based 7th Fleet has suffered this year.
While the 7th Fleet confirmed that eight people had been found, it was not immediately clear whether they were found alive, the Washington Post reported. Search crews have been deployed to find the remaining three passengers.
“Personnel recovery is underway and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff,” the Navy said in a statement on Wednesday morning. “The aircraft was en-route to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea.”
The C-2 Greyhound was headed back to the aircraft carrier when the crash occurred roughly 93 miles away from Okinotori island. The small twin-engine craft is designed to shuttle people and supplies to and from aircraft carriers.
While the Navy has yet to comment as to the wellbeing of the passengers, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters that eight people had been recovered from the plane.
“The Maritime Self-Defense Force is currently searching with U.S. forces,” he said. “We received information from U.S. Forces that the cause is possibly engine malfunction.”
The 7th Fleet has lost 17 sailors in 2017 alone after two devastating accidents claimed multiple lives. In August, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, killing ten crewmembers, and in June, seven perished when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan.
Other accidents proved embarrassing but not fatal: in May, the guided-missile cruiser Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel, and in January, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam became grounded in Tokyo Bay.