US Navy ‘fishes’ wreckage of crashed F-35 in the South China Sea

WASHINGTON — The 7th Fleet Task Force [CTF] 75 and Naval Sea Systems Command [NAVSEA] on March 2 successfully recovered the F-35C Lightning II that crashed in the South China Sea earlier in the year, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing FlugRevue.

US Navy 'fishes' wreckage of crashed F-35 in the South China Sea
Photo credit: FlugRevue

The wreck was lifted from a depth of approximately 3780 meters by a team from CTF 75 and NAVSEA’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving [SUPSALV] aboard the diving support vessel [DSCV] “Picasso”.

The aircraft was recovered using a CURV-21, a remotely operated vehicle [ROV], which attached special rigging and tethers to the aircraft. The ship’s crane hook was then lowered to the seabed and connected to the rope to lift the aircraft to the surface and place it aboard the “Picasso”.

US Navy 'fishes' wreckage of crashed F-35 in the South China Sea
Photo credit: GlugRevue

The plane is now being taken to a nearby military facility to assist in the ongoing investigation and is being examined for possible transport to the United States.

A key task force of the 7th Fleet, CTF 75 is responsible for the planning and execution of maritime security, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, engineering and construction, and underwater construction operations. It also provides direct support to dive and salvage operations and reconnaissance throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

F-35C of the Argonauts

The F-35C Lightning II, belonging to Carrier Aircraft Squadron [CVW] 2 Argonauts [Strike Fighter Squadron [VFA] 14], crashed Jan 24 while attempting to land on the USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70] above deck. US officials have said in recent weeks that recovering the F-35 is critical. Some Pentagon officials feared China might try to find the downed fighter jet ahead of the United States.

US Navy 'fishes' wreckage of crashed F-35 in the South China Sea
Photo credit: FlugRevue

According to the Navy, officials are currently investigating the cause of the accident. Leaked videos of the incident, which surfaced on social media in the weeks following the crash, showed the F-35 impacting the deck of the USS Carl Vinson before the plane burst into flames and slid down the deck into the water.

US Navy 'fishes' wreckage of crashed F-35 in the South China Sea
Photo credit: FlugRevue

The pilot, who was able to save himself with the ejection seat, and six other sailors were injured in the crash. The USS Carl Vinson returned to her homeport in San Diego in mid-February.

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